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Federal judge throws out Georgia's anti-abortion law

Maya T. Prabhu, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

ATLANTA -- A federal judge on Monday struck down Georgia's anti-abortion law approved by the General Assembly last year, calling it unconstitutional.

District Judge Steve C. Jones wrote in his ruling that the law -- which would have outlawed most abortions once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity, or around six weeks of pregnancy -- violated a woman's constitutional right to access to the procedure as established by the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.

"It is in the public interest, and is this court's duty, to ensure constitutional rights are protected," Jones wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia sued the state on behalf of abortion advocates and providers. They argued that the law signed by Gov. Brian Kemp last year was unconstitutional.

Jones agreed, writing that "the constitutional liberty of the woman to have some freedom to terminate her pregnancy" is inhibited by the law.

Under current Georgia law, passed by the Legislature in 2012, abortions are allowed through 20 weeks of gestation, or about 22 weeks of pregnancy.


As a result of his ruling, Jones wrote, "the state of Georgia's abortion laws that were in effect prior to the passage of H.B. 481 remain in effect."

A spokeswoman for the Georgia Attorney General's office said it was reviewing the order and did not have any comment, though the state is expected to appeal the decision.

Jones in October had temporarily blocked the law from going into effect while the case played out in court. It was set to take effect the first day of this year.

Jones also considered various so-called "personhood" provisions in the legislation, which extend legal rights to fertilized eggs.


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