ATLANTA — Georgia's heartbeat abortion law is headed to federal court after the ACLU and other groups filed a lawsuit Friday morning claiming the law is unconstitutional.
The law, set to go into effect Jan. 1, essentially bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy but makes exceptions for rape, incest and the mother’s health.
Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot spoke with the ACLU's legal director, Sean Young, who said the heartbeat law will not hold up to constitutional scrutiny.
“This ban is blatantly unconstitutional under 50 years of Supreme Court precedents, and politicians have no business telling women or couples when to start or expand a family,” Young said.
Elliot was inside the governor’s office in May when Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law. His office and the attorney general’s office had no comment on the new suit.
Shortly after signing the bill, Kemp said he anticipated legal challenges.
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“I realize that some may challenge it in a court of law, but our job is to do what is right, not what is easy,” Kemp said.
The ACLU of Georgia’s executive director, Andrea Young, said that, if the suit fails and the law goes into effect next January, it will have a devastating effect on women.
“It would have a terrible effect on health for women and on women’s ability to make personal and private decisions about when and whether to have or expand a family,” Andrea Young said. “This is the first stage of our complaint.”
In a statement, the Prolife Family Policy Alliance said, “We are so grateful to Gov. Kemp for his unwavering commitment on behalf of the most vulnerable among us, and we support him as he continues to fight for life in court.”
Elliot contacted the bill’s author Friday, but state Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, didn’t respond to Elliot request for a comment about the lawsuit.
Shortly after the bill’s signing, Setzler told Elliot that the law would stand the test of time.
“I think the people of Georgia, once the shrill attacks of the opponents sort of fade into the background, I think the common sense of Georgians will kick in,” Setzler said.
Planned Parenthood’s Staci Fox said she took offense to those remarks.
“We are not fading away, and he’s going to see that more than just today and the coming months,” Fox said.
Georgia is one of 18 states across the country to vote on abortion laws this year. The other states include: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.
Cox Media Group