Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney agreed with the plaintiffs’ argument about the timing of the law. In his 2022 decision he determined that key parts of it “were clearly unconstitutional when drafted, voted on, and enacted.”
However, the majority of the Georgia Supreme Court disagreed.
“Decisions in United States Supreme Court cases interpreting the United States Constitution and which have since been overturned cannot establish that a law was unconstitutional when it was enacted and therefore cannot overturn a law.” law ab initio,” Justice Verda M. Colvin wrote for the majority.
The law was among the strictest in the country when signed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) in 2019. The case will return to the lower court to resolve questions about whether it violates rights inherent in the state Constitution.
While Tuesday’s decision is not the final word on the state law, it was praised by Kemp and his Republican attorney general, Chris Carr, who said his office will continue to defend the constitutionality of the law, known as the Georgia Life Act.
Carol McDonald, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates, said in a statement that its health care facilities in the region will remain open to provide the limited abortion care that is legal.
Current law prohibits abortion after six weeks, which is the earliest date at which cardiac electrical activity of the fetus, as distinct from the heartbeat of a fully formed organ, can be detected. The law has few exceptions, including when the pregnant person’s life is at risk or in cases of rape and incest, with the requirement to file a police report.
Monica Simpson, executive director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, the lead plaintiff in the case, called Tuesday’s decision “devastating.”
“This abortion ban has forced Georgians to travel across state lines at great cost or continue to endure the life-altering consequences of pregnancy and childbirth against their will,” she said.
The fight over access to abortion has only intensified since the United States Supreme Court decision. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Last year’s ruling made control of abortion laws a state issue. Abortion is currently banned or heavily restricted in 18 states, including Georgia, according to the Guttmacher Institutea nonprofit research center that supports abortion rights. Among them, 15 implemented total bans, with very limited exceptions. Two others prohibit abortions after 12 weeks.
SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser described Tuesday’s ruling as a victory for anti-abortion advocates, saying in a statement: “When you bravely lead and defend life, Americans will stand with you.”
But the reality has been different at the polls, where electoral referendums to preserve or expand access to abortion have been successful and galvanized forces for abortion rights advocates.
“Today’s ruling is not the end of this fight for women’s health care,” Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in a statement. “Let’s be clear: abortion rights will be on the 2024 ballot. Governor Brian Kemp and the Georgia legislature acted to take away our rights. The Georgia legislature can restore our rights and we must organize to elect a pro-choice legislature.”
Karine Jean-Pierre, President Biden’s spokesperson, condemned the ruling. She said in a statement Tuesday that the administration “will not stop fighting until the protections of Roe V. Wade are restored to federal law.”
The status of abortion access has been under continuous review since it was passed in 2019. Although it was on the books, a federal court blocked the law from being implemented. The ban was allowed will come into force in June 2022when the u.s. Supreme Court overturned Roe’s decades-old protections. The law was then struck down in November of that year in Fulton County, only for the Georgia Supreme Court to grant an emergency stay of the court order. a week later, allowing the legislation to remain in effect while appeals continued.