Georgia Supreme Court reinstates ban on abortions after 6 weeks

ATLANTA — The Georgia Supreme Court has overturned the stay on Georgia’s heartbeat abortion law, effectively making abortions after six weeks illegal again in the state.

In a one-page order, the high court put a lower court ruling overturning the ban on hold while it considers an appeal. Abortion providers who had resumed performing the procedure past six weeks after the lower court ruling will again have to stop.

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A Fulton County Superior Court judge overturned Georgia’s ban on abortions on Nov. 15, ruling that it violated the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court precedent when it was enacted.


Judge Robert McBurney’s ruling came in a lawsuit that sought to strike down the ban on multiple grounds, including that it violates the Georgia Constitution’s right to privacy and liberty by forcing pregnancy and childbirth on women in the state.

That motion immediately prohibited enforcement of the abortion ban statewide.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr filed an immediate appeal with the Georgia Supreme Court. Carr’s office also asked the high court for an order putting the decision on hold while the appeal was pending.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court granted an emergency stay of the lower’s court’s ruling, which allowed the heartbeat abortion law to go into effect again as the state’s appeals continue. The Supreme Court did not give an explanation about why it granted the stay.

Georgia’s heartbeat bill, which went into effect in July, prohibits most abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” is present. Cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound in cells within an embryo that will eventually become the heart as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

That means most abortions in Georgia are again effectively banned at a point before many women knew they were pregnant.

The order said seven of the nine justices had agreed to the decision. It said one was disqualified and another did not participate.

Channel 2′s Justin Gray was at the Georgia Supreme Court Wednesday, where the latest ruling is certainly not the final one. The ruling just allows the law to stay in place until a decision is made on the state of Georgia’s appeal, which could take months.

Andrea Young, the Executive Director at the ACLU of Georgia, which is one of the plaintiffs in the legal challenge against the law, called it’s reinstatement, “deeply traumatic for women and couples.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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