(The Center Square) — Georgia’s highest court upheld the state’s six-week abortion ban on Tuesday but sent some issues with the law back to a Fulton County court.
The majority 6-1 opinion by Justice Verda Colvin, a Gov. Brian Kemp nominee, overturned a lower court’s decision and kept Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act in place.
The lower court will decide whether the abortion ban “violates the due process, equal protection, and/or inherent-rights provisions of the Georgia Constitution.”
In the lone dissent, Justice John Ellington said that “because the 2019 (LIFE) Act was moribund when enacted, however, the change in doctrine subsequently wrought by the Dobbs decision cannot resuscitate it.”
Ellington cited a decision earlier this year from the Iowa Supreme Court that said since Iowa’s heartbeat law, passed in 2018, violated the Roe decision at the time of its passage, it was a dead law and could not be revived.
Georgia lawmakers passed House Bill 481, the Living Infants Fairness Equality Act, in 2019. The law, commonly called the “Heartbeat Bill,” banned most abortions after about six weeks.
Last November, a Fulton County Superior Court judge blocked the law from going into effect in a lawsuit brought by pro-abortion groups.
The LIFE Act was put on hold in 2019 by a federal judge because of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court that upheld the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe standard in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, a federal appeals court judge ruled the LIFE Act could take effect.
U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Georgia, said in a statement that “Georgia’s extreme abortion ban risks worsening our state’s women’s health crisis.”
“The state of Georgia’s six-week abortion ban – one of the most extreme in the nation – strips women of autonomy in the most personal health decisions,” Ossoff said in a statement. “More than half of Georgia counties have no OB/GYN, and we have one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the country.
“I again call on Georgia’s state Legislature and the governor to repeal this extreme abortion ban.”