Federal judge temporarily blocks Georgia abortion law

Federal judge temporarily blocks Georgia abortion law
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A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a Georgia abortion law that would ban the procedure once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which generally occurs in the first six weeks of a pregnancy.

The ruling follows a series of similar court decisions to block restrictive abortion laws from going into effect in several other states. Georgia’s law had been slated for enforcement starting Jan. 1.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a challenge in June to block the law, which Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed in May.

“This case has always been about one thing: letting her decide. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but every woman is entitled to her own decision,” Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in a statement Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones, who was appointed to the bench by former President Obama, noted past court rulings blocking abortion restrictions and said the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in their argument that the law would have violated the 14th Amendment “by prohibiting an individual from making the ultimate decision whether to continue or to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability.”

He ruled that Georgia’s existing abortion laws would remain in place for the time being.

The so-called heartbeat bill is one of several that conservative legislatures across the nation have passed in recent months. Supporters say the effort is intended in part to prompt a Supreme Court battle that they argue could lead to overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that first legalized abortion nationwide.

Georgia’s law makes exceptions in cases of rape and incest, provided the woman files a police report first, and also allows for abortions when the life of the mother is at risk or a fetus is determined not viable due to a serious medical condition.

None of the statewide abortion restrictions has taken effect, with some blocked in court and others put on hold while legal challenges play out in court.

Updated at 5:09 p.m.