Trials over Georgia law limiting abortion to 6 weeks to begin

ATLANTA (AP) — A trial to determine whether Georgia can ban abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy is scheduled to begin Monday in an Atlanta courtroom.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney has scheduled testimony for two days in a lawsuit aimed at striking down the law on several grounds, including that it violates the Georgia Constitution’s right to privacy and liberty , by “forcing pregnancy and childbirth on countless Georgians”.

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The attorney general’s office responded in a court filing that Georgia privacy laws do not extend to abortion because it affects another “human life.”

Georgian law bans most abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” is present. Heart activity can be detected by ultrasound in cells within an embryo, which eventually becomes the heart as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. This means that most abortions in Georgia are effectively banned well before many women know they are pregnant.

The doctors and advocacy groups who filed the lawsuit before McBurney in July also argue that the law was invalid from the start because it violated the US Constitution and the precedent of the US Supreme Court when it was enacted.

Georgia’s law was passed by state legislatures in 2019 and signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, but its entry into force has been blocked pending Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade, who had protected abortion rights for nearly 50 years. The 11th US Circuit Court of

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Appeals have allowed Georgia to begin enforcing its abortion law just over three weeks after the Supreme Court decision in June.

The law includes exceptions for rape and incest as long as a police report is filed, and allows later abortions when the mother’s life is in danger or a serious medical condition renders a fetus nonviable.

The state has argued that the Roe decision itself was wrong and the Supreme Court ruling erased it.

In August, McBurney denied a plaintiffs motion to immediately block the abortion law while the lawsuit was pending, although he emphasized that the decision did not affect the merits of the case. Earlier this month he denied a request from state officials to postpone the trial, which he will decide, not a jury.