Federal judge says Georgia’s heartbeat abortion law is unconstitutional

ATLANTA — A federal judge has ruled that Georgia’s heartbeat abortion law is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.

The law essentially bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy but makes exceptions for rape, incest and the mother’s health.

Monday’s ruling permanently blocks the law from taking effect.

The law’s author, state Rep. Ed Setzler, told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot that he wrote it in a very specific way establishing, what he said, was personhood for the unborn child or fetus.

He believed by doing that, he met certain legal standards. But Monday, a judge ruled, he did not.

In the lengthy, 67-page ruling, district court Judge Steven Jones laid out his reasoning for overturning the law, saying it “violates the 14th amendment.”

Critics argued that since most women don’t know they’re pregnant at six weeks, the law essentially banned all abortions.


Jones agreed, saying “it is in the public interest, and is this court’s duty, to ensure constitutional rights are protected. The state of Georgia’s abortion laws that were in effect prior to (this law) remain in effect.”

Elliot spoke with ACLU attorney Sean Young shortly after the ruling.

“Today is a tremendous victory for the women of Georgia,” Young said.

He said the decision was the only one the judge could make.

“This case has always been straight forward. Number one the judge held as courts around the country have held that this abortion ban violates 50 years of precedent starting with Roe v. Wade,” Young said.

Setzler said he still believes the law is constitutional and is ready for the appeals, even all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This is a long process. This is just the first step of very many,” Setzler said. “I think they’re a solid foundation. I think the higher courts are going to recognize that before it’s all said and done.”

Gov. Brian Kemp’s office put out a statement shortly after that ruling, saying:

“We will appeal the court’s decision. Georgia values life and we’ll keep fighting for the rights of the unborn.”