Fulton County

Judge begins hearing testimony in trial for Georgia’s ‘heartbeat’ abortion law

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — A two day trial is underway in Fulton County Superior Court in the legal challenge to Georgia’s Heartbeat Abortion law.

A group of pro-choice groups filed the lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court asking Judge Robert McBurney to declare the Georgia abortion law unconstitutional.

Channel 2′s Justin Gray was in the courtroom on Monday as the bench trial began the approximately 12 hours of witness testimony.

“For some people, it is very easily distilled into black or white. It’s right to life or woman’s right to choose. But as many of you in this room know, it is more complicated than that. There are a lot of complicated legal issues” Judge McBurney told the courtroom at the start of the trial.

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The lawsuit seeks to block enforcement of the Georgia law that outlaws abortions once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity, which is typically about six weeks.

Georgia’s bill was signed into law in 2019 and went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer.

“The legislature seems to have taken the maximum restrictive course at every turn,” argued ACLU attorney Julia Kaye.

The plaintiffs argue the law violates the right to privacy, which they say is stronger in the Georgia constitution than the U.S. Constitution.

“The question is whether forced pregnancy infringes on Georgians fundamental right to privacy under the state constitution,” Kaye said.


Attorneys for the state of Georgia countered that the state legislature has the power and authority to pass the law.

“There is no right to an abortion under Georgia’s constitution, there’s nothing that even hints at a right to abortion under Georgia’s constitution,” argued Georgia Solicitor General Stephen Petrany.

Petrany also argued in court that the right to privacy does not apply because another party is involved, the fetus.

“Here we think that that’s just the ballgame. There is a third party involved. The legislature found that there is another person that is involved and want to protect that person,” Petrany said.

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Judge McBurney will not rule at the conclusion of the two day trial. He says it will be weeks before he issues a ruling, and told the courtroom that ruling would not come until after the November 8 election.