A federal judge has temporarily blocked Georgia’s heartbeat bill, pro-life legislation that would prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which usually takes place at about six weeks’ gestation. Republican governor Brian Kemp signed the bill into law in May, and it was set to take effect on January 1, 2020.
But in June, pro-abortion groups Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a challenge to block the legislation — and, as expected, their effort has been successful.
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones, a President Obama appointee, rejected Georgia’s argument that abortion jurisprudence has not precisely defined how the state may act in the interest of unborn life. “Under no circumstances whatsoever may a State prohibit or ban abortions at any point prior to viability, no matter what interests the State asserts to support it,” Jones wrote.
If the state were to appeal, which seems likely, the case would go to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. In a statement, a spokeswoman for Kemp did not say whether the state plans to appeal.
Georgia was one of several states to pass a heartbeat bill earlier this year, along with Mississippi, Ohio, Kentucky, and Louisiana, the last of which was passed by a Democrat-led legislature and signed into law by Democratic governor John Bel Edwards. Each of those laws has either been blocked in court or has yet to go into effect pending legal challenges from abortion-advocacy groups.
This case is another harsh reminder that, because Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey used the muscle of the court to establish a nearly unlimited right to abortion, their undemocratic jurisprudence continues to handcuff pro-life lawmakers and thwart the will of the voters who elected them.