Federal judge rejects 2 Virginia abortion laws, upholds others

Henrietta Brewer
October 2, 2019

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Georgia's controversial new abortion law, legislation that earlier this year prompted several filmmakers and studios to threaten to stop production in the state if it went into effect.

The so-called heartbeat law is one of a wave of laws passed recently by Republican-controlled legislatures in an attack on the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights sued state officials in June, calling for a judge to block the law that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed in May. It includes some exceptions, including if the pregnancy risks the life of the mother or poses substantial and irreversible physical harm.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones wrote in an order Tuesday that the current laws governing abortion in the state shall remain in effect for the time being. Planned Parenthood, which deemed laws placing an "undue burden" on abortion seekers unconstitutional.

According to the AP, Jones wrote that the law violated Supreme Court precedents, which "repeatedly and unequivocally" held that a state can not ban abortion before an embryo or fetus is viable, and that the constitutional challenge of the new law is likely to succeed. It would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

In his decision, Jones wrote that "by prohibiting a woman from terminating her pregnancy after a fetal heartbeat is detected, [the law] bans abortions prior to the point of viability".

"This case has always been about one thing: letting her decide", Sean Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in a statement.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of the Whole Women's Health Alliance in Charlottesville, says the decision and her reaction to it is mixed.

"Once again, the perverse logic of Roe v. Wade has reared its ugly head", he said.

Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Governor Kemp, said the authorities "remain [ed] confident", adding: "We will continue to fight for the unborn and work to ensure that all Georgians have the opportunity to live, grow, and prosper".

Georgia Senate Science and Technology Chairwoman Renee Unterman, who sponsored the bill in that chamber, said, "We are not like NY or Virginia". They included Disney, Netflix and WarnerMedia.

The two recent laws had been challenged by abortion rights groups that said they were too restrictive.

Other reports by iNewsToday