Georgia’s Heartbeat Law Stalled: Abortion Rights Victory

Georgia's Heartbeat Law Stalled, Abortion Rights Fight Presses on | Honeycomb Moms | Georgia's heavily criticized heartbeat law has been stalled by a federal judge. Read more to find out what that means for you.
Georgia’s Heartbeat Law Stalled, Abortion Rights Victory | Honeycomb Moms | Credit: Samantha Sophia

A federal judge put the brakes on a Georgia law Tuesday that would have otherwise made abortions illegal as early as six weeks after conception when a fetal heartbeat was detected.

Though temporary, the federal court decision will stop what has been dubbed the heartbeat law from taking effect Jan. 1, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The legislation, which Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed in May, has been heavily criticized as an intrusion on the woman’s right to choose. Many women don’t realize they are pregnant until after six weeks, advocates have argued.

RELATED: My abortion story before the heartbeat law: Getting pregnant in college

The ACLU partnered with other agencies including Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights to file a constitutional challenge to the heartbeat law on behalf of Georgia abortion providers and an advocacy group in June, according to the organizations.

“This law is an affront to the dignity and health of Georgians,” the agencies said in the lawsuit NPR obtained.

The suit calls the heartbeat law an attack aimed at low-income residents, people of color and those who live in rural areas. Those groups “are least able to access medical care and least able to overcome the cruelties of this law,” according to the suit.

How this affects black women:

Advocates also mentioned in the suit that black women in Georgia face one of the highest rates of pregnancy-related death in the United States.

Kemp has also asked state agencies to propose budget cuts in that department, threatening a $500,000 grant to help research maternal mortality.

Dr. Walkitria Smith, a black woman, told WABE the message is clear “that we’re not a priority.”

“And we should be a priority because we make up his constituents,” she said.

The cut would not only affect women, but children, Smith said.

“If they don’t have a mom here to help render them and guide them in this world then it’s a deficit, and it is something that is a disservice to everybody that’s involved,” she said.

Georgia’s not the only state rolling back abortion rights.

Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, called efforts to roll back abortion rights illegal in a press release Wednesday.

Several states have enacted bans similar to the heartbeat law, including Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio.

“Abortion is still legal in all 50 states,” Camp said. “We won’t stop fighting until we defeat all efforts to block access.” 

Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Kemp, has promised the governor will keep fighting too.

“Despite today’s outcome, we remain confident in our position,” she told The Associated Press Tuesday. “We will continue to fight for the unborn and work to ensure that all Georgians have the opportunity to live, grow, and prosper.”

Georgia's Heartbeat Law Stalled, Abortion Rights Fight Presses on  | Honeycomb Moms | Georgia's heavily criticized heartbeat law has been stalled by a federal judge. Read more to find out what that means for you and your reproductive rights.

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