·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Civil Rights

Georgia’s New Abortion Law Outrages Some Doctors, Civil Rights Groups

— July 9, 2019

Georgia faces lawsuit from civil rights group over new abortion law.

The state of Georgia is being sued by civil rights organizations, clinics, and physicians eager to overturn a state law passed in March of this year that makes abortions illegal after a heartbeat can be detected.  The law essentially makes the procedure possible only in the first few weeks after conception unless there is a significant medical emergency that requires it.  During this time, many would-be mothers won’t even know yet that they are expecting.  The law is due to take effect in January, and until that time, most Georgians are legally allowed to get an abortion until the 20th week of pregnancy.

“This law is an affront to the dignity and health of Georgians,” the lawsuit, filed by the civil rights group Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the plaintiffs, reads.  It states further that “Georgians, particularly black Georgians, already die from pregnancy-related causes at a higher rate than in most other U.S. states…H.B. 481 will prevent Georgians from exercising their fundamental constitutional right to decide whether to have an abortion prior to viability and will threaten other critical medical care for pregnant women, causing irreparable harm.”

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

Nancy Northup, CEO of the center, said that her organization is committed to fighting “all of this year’s abortion restrictions from going into effect.”  She added, “Georgia is one of nine states that have passed abortion bans this year in the hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade.  None of these laws are in effect, and we are fighting to keep it that way.  For nearly half a century, the Supreme Court has protected a woman’s civil right to get an abortion, and we know the majority of Americans continue to support abortion access.”  This new abortion law and four others have been presented in 2019 and are in direct conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

The lawsuit states H.B. 481 “criminalizes pre-viability abortions in direct conflict with Roe” and “violates Georgians’ right to privacy and liberty secured by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”  It specifically names Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr, and other state government and medical officials as defendants and asks that a judge stop the law from taking effect at the start of next year.

“I realize that some may challenge it in a court of law,” Kemp said when it passed. “But our job is to do what is right, not what is easy.  We are called to be strong and courageous, and we will not back down.  We will always continue to fight for life.”

A doctor who performs an abortion after an embryonic or fetal heartbeat is detected could be imprisoned for up to ten years under Georgia’s new law.  Those who support it have said that embryos and fetuses are babies and should be afford the same rights as human beings, while critics argue that denying women abortions is unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade and outlawing them would mean this decision needs to be effectively overturned.  They also argue that making abortions illegal will force some women to end their pregnancies via more destructive means and this could be fatal to both the fetus and the mother.


U.S. rights groups, doctors sue to stop Georgia ‘heartbeat’ abortion ban

Abortion rights advocates sue Georgia over six-week abortion ban

Join the conversation!