The Georgia Heartbeat Bill’s Battle to the Supreme Court

The fetal heartbeat bill signed into law in early May has shaken up Georgians and the rest of the nation. Now, a new chapter to the saga takes place, as federal Judge Steve Jones blocked the law on Oct. 1.

What It Is 

Georgia was the fourth state to enact a fetal heartbeat bill law in 2019, signing it into law on May 7, 2019. The heartbeat bill bans abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy, once doctors can recognize a fetal heartbeat. This time frame is before many women know they are pregnant.

Current Georgia law allows abortions through about 22 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill made national news, and it grew the interest of several celebrities, some vowing to boycott the state if the bill was signed into law. It was scheduled to take effect on Jan.1.

Blocking the Bill 

The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a challenge to block the law in June.

Judge Steve Jones for the U.S. District Court in Atlanta temporarily blocked the bill on Oct. 1.

He stated the U.S. Supreme Court “repeatedly and unequivocally” holds that a state cannot ban abortion before viability, based on the Roe v. Wade case, which was the decision that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

Abortion Bills in Other States 

As conservative legislators pass restrictive abortion laws, battles over the Supreme Court precedent are unfolding in several other states, such as Ohio and Missouri.

Ohio signed a law in April that bans abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, and Missouri signed a bill in late May banning abortion at eight weeks. Alabama signed legislation in mid-May that banned abortion at any stage of development, unless the mother’s life is at risk. Georgia’s bill bans abortions as early as six weeks, once a heartbeat is detected. Several have been blocked in court or put on hold.

What’s Next & What Does It Mean 

The bill could lead to a Supreme Court case that could overturn Roe v. Wade.

If the state appeals the block, the case would go to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The filing deadline is January 18. If the case does overturn Roe v. Wade, states could pass even more restrictive bills, resulting in increased health risks to women and their children.

The abortion debate will likely continue through the 2020 elections, as candidates vie for seats in the Georgia Legislature.

 

 

 

 

 

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