Federal Judge Blocks Georgia Abortion Ban

Photo: John Bazemore (AP)

On Tuesday, a federal judge blocked Georgia’s law banning abortion from going into effect in January.

District Court Judge Steve C. Jones issued a preliminary injunction to freeze the rule from taking effect while the court examine’s the legislation’s constitutionality. House Bill 481, signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in May, seeks to outlaw abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Six weeks pregnant also means about two weeks after a missed period, well before many people actually realize that they are pregnant.

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The President of Planned Parenthood Southeast, Staci Fox, called the ruling “a victory for the people of Georgia and the entire nation.”

“To Governor Kemp, we promised to see you in court, and we did,” she said in a statement. “But most importantly, to our patients, we promised to protect access to safe, legal abortion and together we have.”

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Abortions are currently criminalized in Georgia after about 20 weeks of pregnancy.

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Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Kemp, said: “despite today’s outcome, we remain confident in our position. We will continue to fight for the unborn and work to ensure that all Georgians have the opportunity to live, grow, and prosper.”

The law in question has exceptions for abortions in cases of rape and incest when the person filed a police report. It also allows for exceptions in cases where the pregnant person’s health is in jeopardy.

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Emily Nestler, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that the law was unconstitutional. “Georgia is one of nine states that passed abortion bans this year, all of which have been blocked by courts. Instead of passing laws that restrict the rights of pregnant women, Georgia lawmakers should be implementing policies that help pregnant women,” she said in a statement.

She added: “Georgia has the worst maternal mortality rate in the country. Black women in Georgia face the highest risk—they are more than three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.”

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