A ruling from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in July allowed Georgia’s 2019 abortion law to be enforced.
The SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and other abortion rights groups and providers sued in federal court in 2019 after the Legislature passed the law. Many of those same groups are now suing in Fulton County Superior Court citing the state’s constitution, which some legal experts have said grants more expansive rights to privacy than the U.S. Constitution.
The June U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion and cleared the way for Georgia’s law to take effect.
Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, representing abortion rights advocates and providers, has said the new law violates a woman’s right to privacy under the state constitution by giving prosecutors “virtually unfettered access to the medical files of anyone who seeks an abortion, without a subpoena.”
Attorneys for the state said the law “reflects the view that both mothers and their unborn children should be supported and that abortion, a lethal operation that ends the life of an unborn human being, is appropriate only in rare instances.”
Georgia’s new law is different from other states’ “heartbeat” statutes because it includes so-called personhood provisions, extending rights to an embryo once fetal cardiac activity can be detected. Parents would be able to claim a fetus, once a heartbeat is detected, on their state income taxes as a dependent, and the measure would also require state officials to count an unborn child toward Georgia’s population. Mothers can also file for child support once cardiac activity is detected.