Reproductive rights groups are suing to keep Georgia's restrictive abortion ban from ever going into effect

Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty ImagesA man wears a ‘I stand with Planned Parenthood’ shirt at a protest against recently passed abortion ban bills at the Georgia State Capitol building, on May 21, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging Georgia’s abortion ban.
  • The measure, signed by Governor Brian Kemp in May, would ban abortions after five to six weeks of pregnancy. The law also includes a provision to legally consider the foetus a person.
  • The measure is currently slated to go into effect on January 1.
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Reproductive rights advocates took action on Friday in response to Georgia’s restrictive abortion law.

Once in effect, the law would ban the procedure after five to six weeks of pregnancy – before many women even know they are pregnant.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit, on behalf of several doctors, healthcare providers, and patients, against Georgia, arguing that the restrictive measure is unconstitutional.

Governor Brian Kemp signed the law last month, and it’s currently slated to go into effect January 1.

The latest legal challenge follows a handful of other lawsuits brought forth this year to strike down abortion bans. For instance, earlier this week, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood challenged an 18-week abortion ban in Arkansas.

Last month, those groups also challenged Alabama’s anti-abortion measure, which sparked major controversy for effectively banning the procedure in the state, with no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest and doctors who perform abortions facing up to 99 years in prison.

Read more:
Women deemed ‘responsible’ for having miscarriages could spend 30 years in prison under Georgia’s new abortion law – but it’s often impossible to determine the cause

A law designed to overturn Roe v. Wade

Many say the measures are part of a concerted effort to overturn the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalised abortion in the US and granted women a constitutional right to the procedure.

In the past year alone, nine states, including Georgia, have passed abortion bans.

“What I’m trying to do here is get this case in front of the Supreme Court so Roe v. Wade can be overturned,” Alabama Rep. Terri Collins acknowledged to The Washington Post while discussing the Alabama law in May.

In addition to the “heartbeat” ban, the Georgia law also includes a provision to legally consider a foetus a person. That new definition is described as “vague and potentially vast,” in the complaint, which was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta.

“Under this provision, it is unclear what potentially ‘risky’ behaviour could be deemed criminally reckless inasmuch as ‘person’ is now redefined to mean an embryo/foetus,” the complaint states.

The complaint also outlines potential harms the groups argue women could face if the law goes into effect:

“Georgians who seek clinical abortion care will struggle and suffer … those who can will travel out of state, though for many, such travel will delay care and impose other hardships; others will remain pregnant and give birth against their will; still others will end their own pregnancies or seek care outside the regulated clinical setting, which will expose some women to increased risk of harm.”

Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that they are fighting to keep the law from going into effect at all.

“In a state with a critical shortage of medical providers and some of hte highest rates of maternal and infant deaths, especially among Black Georgians, politicians should focus on expanding access to reproductive care, not banning abortion before someone even knows they’re pregnant,” added Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

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