By: IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News
(ATLANTA) — A judge struck down Georgia’s controversial ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
District Judge Steve C. Jones said the state law, H.B. 481, was unconstitutional as it violated several stipulations set forth by Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that codified abortion as a protected right.
“After considering H.B. 481 as a whole, the title, the caption, the prior legislation, the legislative scheme, the old law, the evil, and the remedy, the Court rejects the State Defendants’ argument that the statutory purpose solely concerns “promoting fetal well-being,” he wrote in his decision.
The law was supposed to go into effect at the beginning of the year but was blocked while the courts heard the suit filed by several groups. Under the legislation, abortions would be banned after six weeks, which is approximately when a doctor may be able to detect a heartbeat from a fetus.
The law had exceptions for rape and incest; however, the patient would have to get a police report in that circumstance.
Abortion rights activists who sued the state, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights, contended the law was made to undermine Roe v. Wade and restrict the right to choose.
“The district court blocked Georgia’s abortion ban, because it violates over 50 years of Supreme Court precedent and fails to trust women to make their own personal decisions. This case has always been about one thing: letting her decide,” Sean J. Young, the legal director, ACLU of Georgia said in a statement.
The law, which passed with a 92 to 78 vote last year, generated an outcry from business leaders, including Hollywood heavyweights, who threatened to leave the state over the measure.
A spokesperson for Gov. Brian Kemp told ABC News in a statement his office will appeal the ruling.
“Georgia values life, and we will keep fighting for the rights of the unborn,” spokesperson Candice Boce said in a statement.
The decision on the Georgia ban came two weeks after the U. S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that required abortion providers have admitting privileges with a nearby hospital. The judges ruled in their decision that third-party standing, which means that a third party — like an abortion provider — is allowed to argue on behalf of the person impacted, applied in the Louisiana case.
Jones, the judge in the Georgia case, said when the case was heard in June that he would wait for the Supreme Court to decide on the third-party standing issue before he made a decision about the Georgia law.
Abortion rights activists also scored a legal victory in Tennessee Monday after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on a law passed the same day that also banned abortions after six weeks. The Tennessee law also blocked patients from having an abortion based on rape or incest.
“It is unconscionable that — in the middle of a public health crisis and a national reckoning on systemic racism — lawmakers are focused on trying to eliminate access to abortion,” Jessica Sklarsky, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.
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