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Potential Supreme Court ruling could restore Georgia’s ‘fetal heartbeat’ law

Georgia State Capitol with state seal

(The Center Square) — A potential Supreme Court ruling on abortion could allow Georgia to reinstitute its “fetal heartbeat” law that bars most abortions after about six weeks.

According to a Politico report, the nation’s highest court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established abortion as a constitutional right, and Casey v. Planned Parenthood. The leaked opinion, purportedly penned by Justice Samuel Alito, comes in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.

In 2019, U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones blocked Georgia’s House Bill 481, the Living Infants Fairness Equality (LIFE) Act, commonly called the “Heartbeat Bill.” The measure would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

In his ruling, Jones noted that because the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Roe v. Wade, a state may not ban abortion. In September 2021, an appeals court issued a stay pending a Supreme Court decision in the Mississippi case.

“Georgia is a state that values life at all stages. Governor Kemp led the fight to pass the strongest pro-life bill in the country and championed the law throughout legal challenges,” Kemp spokeswoman Katie Byrd told The Center Square when asked about the ruling’s implications. “We look forward to the Court issuing its final ruling, however, this unprecedented breach of U.S. Supreme Court protocol is deeply concerning.”

Opponents said the potential U.S. Supreme Court ruling could have implications beyond abortion.

“This reported Supreme Court decision might sound like legalese. But the clear message is that women aren’t equal people under the law,” Georgia Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain, said in a statement. “And they won’t stop at women. All underrepresented groups are just as much at risk.

“We need to come out and vote. Women are not second-class citizens. Barefoot and pregnant is not the America of the future. Educated and independent is the future.”

By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor

The Georgia Virtue
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