January 3, 2013 — Fulton County Superior Court Judge Doris Downs on Dec. 21 issued a preliminary injunction against a Georgia law (HB 954) that bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The measure was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed the lawsuit on behalf of three obstetricians (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/24/12).
The law does not allow exceptions for rape or incest, most cases of severe fetal anomaly or danger to a woman's health. It does permit abortions after 20 weeks if the fetus will not survive or if there is a "medical emergency," defined as "any condition which, in reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of a pregnant female as to necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death" or for which a delay would risk irreversible impairment of a bodily function for the woman or death of the fetus (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/3/12).
ACLU of Georgia said the law "infringes on the fundamental right of a woman to decide whether and when to bear a child" (Beasely, Bloomberg Businessweek, 12/26/12). That right is ensured by the state constitution's "particularly strong protections of privacy," according to Debbie Seagraves, executive director of ACLU of Georgia (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/24/12).
The state countered that ACLU of Georgia was asking the court to find a right to abortion in the state's constitution. However, a "careful review of the text and history of the Georgia Constitution will reveal that such a right does not exist," state Attorney General Sam Olens (R) argued (Bloomberg Businessweek, 12/26/12).
Downs will rule later on the merits of the lawsuit (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/24/12).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
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Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership