In a recent ruling, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned a lower court's decision that deemed the state's restrictive abortion law unconstitutional. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney had previously stated that the law, which bans most abortions after approximately six weeks, violated the Constitution. However, the Georgia Supreme Court disagreed, arguing that they were obligated to apply the United States Supreme Court's new interpretation of the Constitution, which allows for greater restrictions on abortion.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia criticized the decision, claiming that it disregarded long-standing precedent that a law violating the Constitution at the time of its enactment is void from the start. The ACLU represented doctors and advocacy groups who sought to have the law thrown out. However, the ruling does not change abortion access in Georgia and is not the final word on the state's ban.
The state Supreme Court had previously allowed enforcement of the ban while it considered an appeal of the lower court's decision. The lower court judge has yet to rule on other arguments in the lawsuit challenging the ban, including claims that it violates Georgia residents' rights to privacy. The case has been sent back to Judge McBurney for further consideration.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican who signed the ban into law, welcomed the ruling as a step towards protecting the lives of Georgians. However, critics, such as Monica Simpson, executive director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, argue that the ban will lead to increased suffering for women. Simpson claims that the law forces Georgians to either travel out of state at great expense or continue with unwanted pregnancies.
The Georgia law bans most abortions once a "detectable human heartbeat" is present, which can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The law includes exceptions for cases of rape, incest (with a filed police report), and when the mother's life is at risk or a serious medical condition renders the fetus unviable.
Overall, this ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court maintains the limited access to abortions under the state's restrictive law for the time being. However, it is important to note that the legal battle surrounding the ban is not yet over, as the lower court judge still needs to rule on additional arguments in the lawsuit challenging the law.