US: Georgia's foetal heartbeat abortion ban goes into effect today

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade ruling last month, clearing the way for Wednesday's ruling

By Reuters

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Published: Thu 21 Jul 2022, 10:23 AM

A Georgia law banning abortion when a foetal heartbeat is detected (typically around six weeks) will take effect, after a federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a challenge to it by abortion providers, according to a report by Reuters.

Chief Judge William Pryor of the Atlanta-based 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel that the state had a "rational basis" for the law, given its interest in "providing full legal recognition to an unborn child".

Georgia passed the law, which also defined "person" to include an "unborn child", in 2019. A federal judge blocked it that October before it could take effect, finding it violated the right to abortion established by the US Supreme Court in its 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling. However, the Supreme Court overturned that ruling last month, clearing the way for Wednesday's ruling.

The law took effect after the 11th Circuit, in an unusual move, issued a separate order, about two hours after its decision, that stayed the trial court’s injunction.

"This is a grave human rights violation, and Planned Parenthood, along with its partners, will do everything in our power to fight back and ensure all people can get the health care they need, regardless of where they live," said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, in a statement. He was one of the providers in the lawsuit.

The office of Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

About half of US states have (or are expected to have) sought to ban/curtail abortions, following the Supreme Court's June 24 ruling. Judges have largely upheld the laws against legal challenges, though some, such as those in Utah and Kentucky, have been blocked for now.

The Georgia law includes exceptions for medical emergencies, and for cases of rape or incest where a police report was filed.


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