Jun 24, 2022 - News

The future of abortion in Georgia post-Roe v. Wade

An empty judge's gown is next to an empty patient's gown

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A Georgia law banning abortions as early as six weeks — a time when many people might not know they're pregnant— is likely to take effect following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Why it matters: Georgia is one of at least 13 states with laws that will restrict or ban abortions now that the landmark legal decision has been overturned, per Axios' Oriana Gonzalez.

  • SisterSong v. Kemp, a lawsuit challenging Georgia's law, has been on hold in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals pending SCOTUS' decision.

Details: HB 481, the 2019 law, bans abortions once cardiac activity has been detected in an embryo — generally at about six weeks.

  • The law contains exceptions if a doctor deems a pregnancy "medically futile," and for victims of rape and incest, but only after they've filed police reports and only for fetuses younger than 20 weeks old.
  • It does not criminalize miscarriages. It exempts ​​​​"the naturally occurring death of an unborn child, including a miscarriage or stillbirth" and the removal of an ectopic pregnancy from the definition of "abortion."

What's next: Anthony Michael Kreis, a constitutional law professor at Georgia State University, told Axios Atlanta in May that he thought the appeals court would likely decide the law is constitutional, citing the Supreme Court ruling.

  • "I think it goes into effect in a matter of hours," Kreis said. "I do not see the federal courts letting it linger terribly long."

Yes, but: "It will still be subjected to federal rational basis review and will inevitably be challenged under the Georgia Constitution's more deep and expansive right to privacy," Kreis predicted Friday on social media.

The bottom line: With the law in effect, a woman in Georgia would have to travel as far as 250 miles to reach the nearest abortion provider, according to a recent analysis by the Myers Abortion Facility Database.

Go deeper: Georgia reacts to the overturning of Roe v. Wade


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