Georgia’s six-week abortion ban can now take effect, per the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling this week.
The controversial law, the Georgia LIFE Act, bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically at about six weeks, a limited timeframe for many women to know they are pregnant.
The measure provides exceptions for up to 20 weeks for rape and incest if a police report is filed and for medical emergencies. A medical emergency, per the new law, is defined as “a condition in which an abortion is necessary in order to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
The bill was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019 after receiving a majority of Republican support, but the courts soon blocked it from taking effect due to lawsuits from pro-choice groups.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision comes after a June 24 U.S Supreme Court ruling overturned Roe v. Wade, a landmark case that protected women’s decisions to obtain an abortion.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr immediately asked the appeals court to allow the Georgia law to take effect following the Supreme Court ruling.
“I believe in the dignity, value, and worth of every human being, both born and unborn,” Carr stated. “The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs is constitutionally correct and rightfully returns the issue of abortion to the states and the people – where it belongs.”
Democrat Jen Jordan, Carr’s challenger in the November General Election, has previously said if elected, she would not enforce the law, stating it violates the right to privacy.
“The U.S. Supreme Court said this fight belongs in the states, so we must challenge this law in the state courts, and we must elect state leaders who will protect access to reproductive health care,” Jordan said.
Kemp posted a video lauding the Appeal Court’s decision, stating it affirms his commitment to “cherish and value every human being in all stages of life.”
“As mothers navigate pregnancy, birth, parenthood or alternative options to parenthood like adoption, Georgia’s public, private and nonprofit sectors stand ready to provide the resources they need to be safe, healthy and informed,” Kemp said.
In the video, he and his wife, Marty Kemp, said the state has worked to improve support services for mothers and their children by expanding pregnancy and parental resources, expanding postpartum Medicaid to one year postpartum and improving and reforming adoption and foster care systems.
Democrat Stacey Abrams, Kemp’s challenger in the November election, has campaigned against the new law at several of her campaign events.
“Georgia women will lose their right to choose before most even know they’re pregnant because of the governor’s callous decision to put his politics above women’s health care needs,” Abrams said Wednesday. “What’s been done with this law has been an assault on our liberties, and we will fight back.”
Georgia now joins Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee with six-week abortion bans.
Abortion is banned (with the exception of medical emergencies) in seven states: Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.
“The women and families of Georgia deserve better. We all deserve better. No matter how long it takes, we are here in this battle until everyone has full bodily autonomy,” said Monica Simpson, executive director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, one of several groups that filed a lawsuit in 2019 challenging the Georgia law.