Federal judge throws out Georgia's abortion law

Ross Houston
July 16, 2020

Jones had temporarily blocked the law in October, and it never went into effect.

In Tennessee, U.S. District Judge William Campbell blocked the state's abortion law shortly after Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill on Monday. His ruling permanently enjoins the state from ever enforcing House Bill 481, also known as the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act. The judges ruled in their decision that third-party standing, which means that a third party - like an abortion provider - is allowed to argue on behalf of the person impacted, applied in the Louisiana case. Both laws would have made abortions illegal once a heartbeat is detected, which happens around six weeks when most women don't even know they are pregnant.

"It is in the public interest, and is this court's duty, to ensure constitutional rights are protected".

"Defendant Boston is free to change her mind at any time", Judge Jones wrote.

A federal judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has permanently blocked Georgia's "heartbeat" abortion law, ruling the legislation is unconstitutional. In granting the temporary restraining order Monday, he wrote that he's "bound by the Supreme Court holdings prohibiting undue burdens on the availability of pre-viability abortions".


When the bill cleared the Senate in June, Lee applauded its passage, calling it "the strongest pro-life law" in the state's history. This case has always been about one thing: "letting her decide", Sean J. Young, the legal director, ACLU of Georgia said in a statement.

The Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Tenn., on March 1, 2009.

Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit hours after the bill passed.

"The Tennessee General Assembly's passage of this unsafe, flatly unconstitutional bill is unacceptable", Hedy Weinberg, executive director of ACLU-Tennessee, said in a statement. "No one should have to live in a world where their body and reproductive decision-making is controlled by the state".

The Susan B. Anthony List, one of the United States' largest pro-life groups, had previously praised the Tennessee "heartbeat" bill.


Why it matters: The laws were some of the most restrictive in the country.

The prospects of an appeal are uncertain, though, considering the U.S. Supreme Court last month struck down other abortion restrictions from Louisiana.

A a 36-page legal response filed by Tennessee officials and "over 200 pages of declarations and exhibits" were unpersuasive given the 6-week fetal heartbeat standard set forth in state law and the viability standard of 23 or 24 weeks in constitutional law.

At least eight states passed so-called heartbeat bills in 2019, including Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee.


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