(The Center Square) — A group of pro-abortion doctors and advocates has filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court to block Georgia’s fetal heartbeat bill banning most abortions after six weeks.
The group wants a judge to block House Bill 481, the Living Infants Fairness Equality Act, which Georgia lawmakers passed in 2019, pending the case’s outcome.
Last week, a federal appeals judge ruled that the law, commonly called the “Heartbeat Bill,” could take effect following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. A federal judge initially blocked the law because the U.S. Supreme Court had previously upheld the 1973 ruling.
“This abortion ban sends the disturbing message that Georgia is closed to women seeking equal opportunity and basic rights to make private decisions about their future,” Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in a statement. “Georgia’s economic growth was built on the Atlanta business community’s commitment to diversity and tolerance and this extreme law will have a chilling effect on that growth.”
In September 2021, an appeals court issued a stay pending June’s Supreme Court ruling in a case stemming from Mississippi that struck down Roe v. Wade. Following the ruling, Georgia officials asked the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse the district court decision.
The challengers argue the legislation ran afoul of the state’s judicial precedent because it violated federal constitutional precedent when it was passed in 2019. They contend that a subsequent federal law change cannot revive it.
Additionally, they say the state’s constitution provides strong privacy protections, which should bar what they say is political interference with a patient’s decision to proceed with an abortion. They also oppose a provision giving prosecutors access to abortion patients’ private medical records.
“We are currently reviewing this filing and we will uphold our constitutional duty, as we do with all lawsuits against the state,” a spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Carr told The Center Square.
Katie Byrd, a spokeswoman for Gov. Brian Kemp, told The Center Square that Georgia “values life at all stages, and the Georgia LIFE Act, which is now law, is one of many measures that reflects those values.” She also pointed to a recent expansion of pregnancy and parenting resources.
“We will continue the important work of protecting life at all stages and increasing supportive services for mothers and their children before, during, and after birth,” Byrd said.