Georgia is doubling down on its recently signed law virtually outlawing abortion in the state, telling a federal court that it should dismiss an effort by the American Civil Liberties Union to stop the law from taking effect.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, attorneys for the state told the court that Georgia had a vested interest in “protecting the life of the unborn.”
“Defendants deny all allegations in the complaint that killing a living unborn child constitutes ‘medical care’ or ‘health care,’” the attorneys wrote, the AJC reports.
Georgia’s so-called heartbeat law outlaws abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks into pregnancy, a timeframe that is often before women even know that they’re pregnant.
The law allows for abortions after that point only if a woman’s life is in danger. An exception may also be allowed in cases of rape or incest — but only if a woman files a police report. With statistics showing less than 1 in 4 rapes are ever reported, reproductive rights advocates say that standard doesn’t work.
The ACLU, in a suit brought in June on behalf of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and other abortion rights activists, argues that Georgia’s new law violates women’s constitutional right to access abortion and to do so up to 24 weeks into pregnancy.
“Politicians should not be second-guessing women’s health care decisions,” the legal group has said, the AJC reports.
While the lawsuit makes its way through the legal system, the ACLU also wants the court to delay implementation of the law, which is set to go into effect Jan. 1. Arguments about that are set to be heard before U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones next month.
However, on Monday, Georgia also argued that rather than grant the ACLU’s request to delay implementation, the court should hold a hearing in November on the merits of the suit in its entirety.
“Although compressed, this schedule would be sufficient to develop the necessary record to finally dispose of this matter in court,” attorneys for the state wrote, AJC reports.
As The Root has reported previously, Georgia’s law is among more than a dozen pieces of similar legislation in mostly Republican-run states around the nation, all supported in hopes of overturning the nation’s historic pro-choice law, Roe v. Wade.
And the pressure on a woman’s right to choose is happening on other fronts as well, with Planned Parenthood, also on Monday, opting out of accepting a big chunk of federal funding rather than submit to new Trump administration “gag rules” that limit what medical providers can tell patients with regard to abortion and providers of same.