Updated Nov 15, 2022 - Health

Judge strikes down Georgia's six-week abortion ban

Photo of a sign that sats "stop the bans"

Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images

A judge in Georgia on Tuesday struck down key provisions of the state's six-week abortion ban, calling the ban unconstitutional.

The latest: The state of Georgia filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court shortly after the law was overturned.

  • Kara Richardson, a spokesperson for Georgia's attorney general, told Axios the office “will continue to fulfill our duty to defend the laws of our state in court.”

Why it matters: The law — which had been blocked since 2019 — took effect in July after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

  • It banned abortions once cardiac activity had been detected in an embryo — generally at about six weeks, which is before many people know that they are pregnant.
  • The law has exceptions if a doctor believes a pregnancy is "medically futile" and for victims of rape and incest, as long as they have been reported to law enforcement.

Zoom in: Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney wrote in his ruling that at the time of the law's passage, it was "unequivocally unconstitutional for governments — federal, state, or local — to ban abortions before viability. And yet the LIFE Act ... did just that."

  • Therefore, he said, "It did not become the law of Georgia when it was enacted and it is not the law of Georgia now."

Catch up quick: Opponents to the anti-abortion law filed this case in state court after a challenge failed in federal court following the Supreme Court's decision.

  • They argued the law violated the state constitution's right to privacy.

Of note: McBurney added the restriction "may someday become the law of Georgia" following the Dobbs decision, "but only after our Legislature determines in the sharp glare of public attention that will undoubtedly and properly attend such an important and consequential debate."

What they're saying: "After a long road, we are finally able to celebrate the end of an extreme abortion ban in our state," said Monica Simpson, executive director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, the lead plaintiff in the case.

  • "While we applaud the end of a ban steeped in white supremacy, it should not have existed in the first place. Now, it’s time to move forward with a vision for Georgia that establishes full bodily autonomy and liberation for our communities," Simpson added.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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