New fights likely in 2023 over Georgia’s 6-week abortion law HB 481 – WABE

Georgia could see more battles over its abortion restrictions in 2023. The state Supreme Court is expected to bring a lawsuit against House Bill 481, which bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy when cardiac activity can be detected in the womb and before many women know they are pregnant.

The lawsuit, filed by the ACLU on behalf of advocacy groups and abortion providers in Georgia, was originally heard in Fulton County Superior Court this fall.

After a two-day trial in Atlanta, Judge Robert McBurney ruled that HB 481 was unenforceable because it was unconstitutional when it was originally passed and enacted — in 2019, well before the United States Supreme Court’s decision this summer , the Roe v. Wade picked up .

The Georgia Supreme Court then granted a motion by the Attorney General to stay the ban and restore the law while the state’s official appeal against the decision goes through the courts.

And the six-week ban went into effect just before Thanksgiving.

Since then, abortion providers have again turned away patients whose pregnancy has exceeded the six-week mark.

“Sometimes it’s quite emotional, especially when you have to tell a patient that you can’t be seen here in Georgia. And sometimes patients are unaware of the law, most people were unaware that it is back to what it is. It’s just very discouraging,” said Antoinette, front office supervisor and patient coordinator for Feminist Women’s Health Center.

Fearing for her safety, she keeps her last name a secret. The independent clinic is regularly the target of abortion opponents.

Staff are turning away about seven patients a day after ultrasound scans revealed their pregnancies exceeded the legal pregnancy limit, hospital officials said.

The Feminist Women’s Health Center and other Georgia abortion providers refer patients in this situation to abortion providers in other states, where the procedure is available later in the pregnancy.

The closest to Atlanta is about two and a half hours away in Greenville, South Carolina.

“For the patients here, they will go through a consultation and we will provide them with information for the Greenville Women’s Clinic in Greenville. Then there are three or four clinics in North Carolina, and I think there’s one or two in Florida,” said Tracii Wesley, operations director of the Feminist Women’s Health Center.

Patients who need financial assistance to cover their travel expenses are also referred to organizations that provide it, such as B. the National Abortion Federation.

Abortion providers across the state are also keeping an eye out for abortion-related legislation that could be introduced during the upcoming 2023 legislature.

On the campaign trail, Governor Brian Kemp promised no new abortion restrictions for the state.

It’s unclear when Georgia Supreme Court justices will hear the ACLU lawsuit against HB 481.