The Georgia State Supreme Court upheld the state’s six-week abortion ban in a ruling Tuesday morning.
The ruling reverses a lower court’s decision to void certain sections of the LIFE Act because it was enacted prior to the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision one year ago that overturned the federal right to an abortion under Roe v. Wade.
Georgia’s LIFE Act bans, with some exceptions, abortion when early cardiac activity is detected – which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, when many women don’t yet know they are pregnant.
The Tuesday ruling said in part, “the trial court erred in relying on overruled decisions of the United States Supreme Court to conclude that portions of the LIFE Act violated the United States Constitution when enacted in 2019. The same United States Constitution governs today as when the LIFE Act was enacted, and Georgia courts are required to look to the United States Supreme Court’s now-controlling interpretation of the United States Constitution when determining whether a statutory law violates that Constitution.”
“We are pleased with the court’s decision and will continue to defend the constitutionality of Georgia’s LIFE Act,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement.
In response to the state Supreme Court’s decision, Monica Simpson, the executive director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, a plaintiff in the case, said, “Today’s devastating decision means that our people will continue to face the horrible reality that they are in today where Georgians are suffering because they cannot access abortion care. This abortion ban has forced Georgians to travel across state lines at great expense or continue the life-altering consequences of pregnancy and childbirth against their wills.”
Lauren Eden, the Georgia advocate for the Abortion Survivors network, told CNN, “I am thrilled. It’s going to protect so many innocent lives like mine. This will not only protect the lives of unborn babies, but also the lives of the mothers who we know suffer so much pain after an abortion procedure.”
Georgia House Democrats denounced the decision in a statement, “This harmful decision leaves in place a deadly restriction on reproductive rights and criminalizes doctors who are seeking to provide life saving healthcare to patients across the state.”
The Georgia State Supreme Court did not offer a ruling on a subsequent challenge by plaintiffs that said the ban “violates the due-process, equal-protection, and/or inherent-rights provisions of the Georgia Constitution,” but instead remanded the case back to the trial court for a decision.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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