ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Georgia’s Anti-Abortion Heartbeat Bill

Opponents of Georgia’s new “heartbeat” law on Friday began what is expected to be a lengthy court battle when they filed a lawsuit challenging the measure — setting the case on a path that the anti-abortion measure’s supporters hope will lead to a reversal of Roe v. Wade.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia argues in the suit that the law violates a woman’s constitutional right to access abortion until about 24 weeks of pregnancy, as established in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling.

Gov. Brian Kemp in May signed into law House Bill 481, which outlaws most abortions once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity — usually at about six weeks of pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant.

State Attorney General Chris Carr’s office said it is reviewing the complaint and declined to comment on pending litigation. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones.

Any ruling in the case would almost certainly be appealed and the case could take years to work its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1. Current Georgia law, passed by the Legislature in 2012, allows abortions through 20 weeks of pregnancy.

But the ACLU — on behalf of the Atlanta-based nonprofit advocacy group SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and several abortion providers — says Georgia’s new law is unconstitutional, and it’s asking a judge to stop the measure from going into effect.

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SOURCE: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Maya T. Prabhu