Judge declines request to block Georgia's fetal heartbeat law that bans some abortions

A federal appeals court has already ruled the law could take effect.

Updated: August 15, 2022 - 11:57pm

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A Fulton County Superior Court judge declined a request to block Georgia's fetal heartbeat law that bans most abortions after six weeks.

Georgia lawmakers passed House Bill 481, the Living Infants Fairness Equality Act, in 2019. However, a federal judge initially blocked the law, commonly called the "Heartbeat Bill," because the U.S. Supreme Court had previously upheld the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Georgia officials asked the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse the district court decision, and a federal appeals judge ruled the law could take effect. The move officials prompted a group of pro-abortion doctors and advocates to file a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court.

"The court's decision today declining to block the abortion ban is extremely disappointing and leaves in place a law that severely compromises the quality of women's healthcare in the state of Georgia," Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in an announcement. "Ultimately, the power is with Georgia voters to affirm our right to privacy and to make personal, private and intimate decisions without government interference."

Opponents of the law said the ruling is not final and that it denied immediate "emergency relief" to block HB 481. In a news release, opponents said they planned to continue their fight.

Kara Richardson, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Carr, declined to comment, saying the case is ongoing. Katie Byrd and Andrew Isenhour, spokespeople for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, did not respond to a request from The Center Square for comment.