Georgia heartbeat law to stand while lawsuit is considered

heartbeat bill, Georgia

A Georgia judge has allowed a law protecting preborn children once a preborn child’s heartbeat is detected to remain in effect. Although the law is currently at the center of a lawsuit brought by the abortion industry, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled Monday that the law can be enforced while the lawsuit makes its way through the courts.

The ruling comes after the plaintiffs asked the court to issue a temporary injunction on the law during a hearing last week. But McBurney said that he can’t block the law because he had not yet determined whether or not it is unconstitutional. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a hearing has not yet been set for the court to determine the law’s constitutionality.

“The Court is making no finding on the merits of this important litigation,” McBurney wrote. “The question of whether it is constitutional for the State to force a woman to carry to term a six-week-old embryo against her wishes, even in the face of serious medical risk, remains to be answered. Until it is, however, the LIFE Act remains in effect.”

The heartbeat law, known as the Georgia LIFE Act, prohibits abortion after the detection of an embryonic or fetal heartbeat (usually detectable by six weeks, though the heart begins to beat around 16-22 days). It went into effect last month after an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals judge lifted an injunction on the law.

READ: Georgia recognizes preborn children with heartbeats as dependents on state tax returns


“We vacate the injunction, reverse the judgment in favor of the abortionists, and remand with instructions to enter judgment in favor of the state officials,” the court announced in its July decision. “Georgia’s prohibition on abortions after detectable human heartbeat is rational,” the ruling continued. “Respect for and preservation of prenatal life at all stages of development is a legitimate interest.”

The abortion industry spoke out against McBurney’s decision. “We are deeply disappointed that the court is allowing our state’s extreme six-week abortion ban to remain in effect and is putting thousands of Georgians in danger by denying them essential health care,” said Monica Simpson, executive director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, the lead plaintiff in the case. “Our vision for Georgia is that everyone including Queer, trans, and low-income people have the freedom to decide to have children, to not have children, and to raise the families they have in thriving communities.”

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