Supreme Court ruling clears way for decision on Georgia abortion law

The U.S. Supreme Court. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a Louisiana abortion law clears a path for a decision on a similar case pending in federal court in Atlanta.

Earlier this month, a federal judge told attorneys challenging Georgia's abortion law that he would wait until the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in June Medical Services LLC v. Russo before he could determine whether Georgia's law was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court ruled that a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals violates the right to the procedure that the court first granted in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

While the law being addressed in Georgia is different — banning most abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected, typically at about six weeks into a pregnancy — District Judge Steve C. Jones wondered in a hearing two weeks ago whether the Supreme Court would continue to allow abortion providers to challenge a law, instead of it being an individual seeking an abortion.

Had the high court changed its standard, Jones said, he might require additional testimony before making his decision.

Instead, the court accepted June Medical Services as an appropriate plaintiff in the case, clearing the way for Jones to issue a ruling.

Jones in October temporarily blocked the Georgia law from going into effect while the case plays out in court, but the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia wants the injunction to be permanent. The law was scheduled to go into effect last January.

The group, on behalf of several abortion rights advocates and providers, sued the state, saying Georgia's law violates a woman's constitutional right to abortion. Attorneys for the state believe the law should be allowed to take effect.