Georgia Supreme Court reinstates 6-week abortion ban

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Abortion is now outlawed again in Georgia after six weeks of pregnancy, as the Georgia Supreme Court revived the state’s restrictive abortion law — at least temporarily — on Wednesday, a week after a state judge ruled it unconstitutional.

Abortion rights advocates hold signs to protest the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson … [+] Women’s health case on June 24 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Important facts

The Georgia Supreme Court issued a unilateral ruling granting the state government’s request to stay a lower court order declaring the ban illegal while the case is being appealed, meaning the law is back in effect occurs while a lawsuit against it is pending.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled Nov. 15 that the six-week ban was unlawful because it was enacted in 2019, when abortion was banned under Roe v. Wade was still legal nationwide, although the US Supreme Court has since overturned that ruling.

Abortion advocates and physicians sued to have the law overturned in July after a federal court allowed it to go into effect, arguing that the law violates the Georgia Constitution and its privacy, and was also unconstitutional at the federal level when it was first enacted in 2019 came into effect.

SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Big number

34,988. That’s the number of abortions performed in Georgia in 2021, the latest year for which data is available, according to state data cited by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. That number is 3,740 higher than in 2020, and it’s likely that more abortions would be performed in the state in 2022 if the procedure had remained legal, since abortions are now banned in many neighboring southern states like Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Crucial quote

When Georgia’s six-week abortion ban was enacted in 2019, “anywhere in America, including Georgia, it was clearly unconstitutional for governments — federal, state, or local — to ban abortion before it was feasible,” McBurney wrote in his decision overturning the ban repealed, as cited by the Associated Press. That means the six-week ban “did not become Georgia law when it was enacted, and it is not Georgia law now.”

key background

The Georgia case is part of a series of lawsuits that have challenged state abortion bans in state courts after the Supreme Court ruled Roe v. Wade overturned in June, as abortion rights advocates have now turned their attention to challenging laws in state constitutions that cannot be challenged in federal court. In addition to Georgia, since June state bans have been at least temporarily suspended in Indiana, Arizona, North Dakota, Ohio, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wyoming, Louisiana, Utah and Texas, although some of those laws have since been allowed to be reinstated in subsequent court rulings. Georgia is now one of more than a dozen states that have at least broad bans on abortion, but it is the only state that has a six-week ban in place, rather than a total ban on abortion at all times during a pregnancy, like similar laws in South Carolina and Ohio remain blocked in court.

Further reading

Judge overturns Georgia’s six-week abortion ban (Forbes)

Georgia asks court to immediately reinstate abortion ban (Associated Press)

100 Days Since the Overthrow of Roe V. Wade: The 11 Greatest Episodes (Forbes)

Indiana Supreme Court keeps abortion ban blocked – here’s the state of state lawsuits (Forbes)