Georgia Supreme Court rules state’s six-week abortion ban can go back into effect

The Supreme Court of Georgia issued a ruling on Wednesday that reinstated a ban against most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, The Hill reported.

The law had just been blocked from being enforced last week when a lower court had ruled that it was an “unconstitutional” law.

Request for stay granted

A one-page order from Georgia’s highest court, however, granted a request from the state for a stay on that ruling that placed the decision on hold while the case continues to work its way through the judicial system.

That order noted that all of the nine justices concurred except for two, one of whom was “disqualified” and the other who was “not participating” in the decision.

At issue here is a 2019 law passed by the Republican-controlled Georgia state legislature known as the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act that bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which usually occurs around six weeks of pregnancy.

Law deemed unconstitutional at time it was passed

According to Fox News, that law had been blocked by the courts for the past three years until June of this year when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its consequential Dobbs ruling that overturned the prior precedent of Roe v. Wade and allowed for individual states to set their own policies on abortion procedures.

On November 15, however, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it would have been deemed as such at the time it was initially passed in 2019 when Roe v. Wade was still the ruling standard.

McBurney wrote that at that time, “everywhere in America, including Georgia, it was unequivocally unconstitutional for governments — federal, state, or local — to ban abortions before viability.”

The American Civil Liberties Union noted that Judge McBurney explained that, per Georgia’s Constitution, if a law is determined to be in violation of either the state or U.S. Constitution at the time that it is initially passed, then it is deemed to be unconstitutional and void forever, meaning the legislature would have to pass a new law now in the post-Dobbs era.

Unsurprisingly, the ACLU shared numerous quotes from the various parties involved in challenging the Georgia six-week abortion ban that ranged from angry to disappointed to hopeful that it would eventually be overturned once the merits of the case were fully considered.

Law back in effect

According to Politico, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr swiftly filed an appeal of McBurney’s ruling and asked the state’s Supreme Court to issue the stay to place it on hold while the appeal was pending, which is exactly what the court did on Wednesday.

Thus, for now, at least, it is once again prohibited in Georgia for most abortions to be performed once a fetal heartbeat can be detected by ultrasound.