ATLANTA — Georgia’s 2019 abortion law that restricts the procedure once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity will be back in effect during the legal process, the state Supreme Court ordered on Wednesday.
Attorneys representing Gov. Brian Kemp had asked the Georgia Supreme Court to reverse a Superior Court ruling released last week that blocked enforcement of the state’s anti-abortion law, which bars the procedure typically around six weeks into a pregnancy and before many know they are pregnant.
Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney on last week had ordered the state to no longer enforce the 2019 law. The law had been in effect in Georgia since July.
Attorneys for the state told the Supreme Court that it is in the public interest not only to overturn McBurney’s ruling, but to block it while the court considers the case.
“The harm to the state is significant and irreparable,” attorneys wrote in the appeal filed with the court. “Unborn children are at risk every day that the injunction continues.”
It’s unclear when the Supreme Court will make a decision on whether to permanently block the Fulton County ruling.
Attorneys representing abortion rights activists and providers, last month argued that when the law passed in 2019, Roe v. Wade — the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed a right to an abortion until a fetus was viable outside the mother’s body — was the law of the land and state law does not allow the Legislature to enact statutes that violate the law.
A ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in July allowed Georgia’s 2019 abortion law to be enforced. The U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization paved the way for Georgia’s law to take effect.
McBurney said that just because the Dobbs decision overturned the nearly 50-year-old Roe decision, it did not retroactively make the 2019 passage of Georgia’s abortion law legal.
In their appeal, attorneys for the state said it doesn’t matter whether the law was not constitutional when it passed the General Assembly in 2019, it is now in line with the law as established by the Dobbs decision.
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