A federal appeals court ruled that a widely restrictive Georgia abortion law can go into effect immediately after it reversed a lower court ruling Wednesday.
The decision comes after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month with one judge in the Georgia case writing that the historic Supreme Court decision “makes clear no right to abortion exists under the Constitution, so Georgia may prohibit them.”
The Georgia law prohibits most abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” is found.
There are exceptions to rape and incest as long as a police report is filed. Other exceptions for later abortions are allowed if the mother’s life is at risk or a serious medical condition makes the fetus unviable.
The appeals court also rejected arguments that a part of the law that changes the definition of “natural person” is unconstitutionally vague. The “personhood” clause gives a fetus the same legal rights as people once they are born.
The three-judge panel of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals also issued a second order Wednesday to allow the law to take effect immediately.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the law in 2019, but it was blocked from being enforced in 2020 by a federal district court.
“Since taking office in 2019, our family has committed to serving Georgia in a way that cherishes and values each and every human being, and today’s decision by the 11th Circuit affirms our promise to protect life at all stages,” Kemp said Wednesday.
Kemp has avoided stating whether he supports further abortion limits, but his staffers have noted it might be difficult to pass a more restrictive law because the 2019 legislation only passed by one vote.
Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, vowed to “continue to fight for abortion rights for the women of Georgia with all of the tools at our disposal.”
The ACLU filed the lawsuit against the abortion law on behalf of Georgia abortion providers and an advocacy group.
Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is facing Kemp in November’s election, assailed her GOP opponent following the Wednesday ruling.
“Today, Kemp achieved his goal: to endanger women, strip away our right to choose, and deny our ability to determine what is best for our bodies,” Abrams said. “In a state where pregnancy is too often fatal, he is proud of denying women the right to make medical decisions for themselves.”
With Post wires