Georgia Defends Law Banning Abortions When Unborn Baby’s Heartbeat Begins

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Aug 20, 2019   |   6:07PM   |   Atlanta, GA

Lawyers for the state of Georgia defended the new heartbeat law this week, arguing that the state has a vested interest in “protecting the life of the unborn.”

They asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other pro-abortion groups, The Root reports.

“Defendants deny all allegations in the complaint that killing a living unborn child constitutes ‘medical care’ or ‘health care,’” the lawyers wrote, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

State lawmakers expected a legal challenge when they passed the heartbeat law in May. If allowed to be enforced, the law would ban abortions on an unborn baby after their heartbeat is detectable, around six weeks. Exceptions would be allowed for rape, incest and threats to the mother’s life.

In addition, the law would allow parents to claim unborn babies as dependents on their taxes and include the unborn baby in census data. It also would allow mothers to collect child support for pregnancy and delivery costs from the father prior to the baby’s birth.

In June, however, the ACLU, the Center for Reproductive Rights, SisterSong and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit, arguing that the pro-life law is unconstitutional and should be overturned.

“Politicians should not be second-guessing women’s health care decisions,” the ACLU said in a statement.

The pro-abortion legal group recently asked the court for a temporary injunction that would block the state from enforcing the law while the lawsuit proceeds.

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Here’s more from the report:

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.

Gov. Brian Kemp has been firm about his committment to defend the law and the rights of unborn babies in court.

“(The bill) is very simple but also very powerful: a declaration that all life has value, that all life matters, and that all life is worthy of protection,” he said, previously. “I realize that some may challenge it in a court of law. But our job is to do what is right, not what is easy. We are called to be strong and courageous, and we will not back down. We will always continue to fight for life.”

The pro-abortion groups have argued that the law violates the rights to privacy and liberty guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

The heartbeat law “will prevent Georgians from exercising their fundamental constitutional right to decide whether to have an abortion prior to viability and will threaten other critical medical care for pregnant women, causing irreparable harm,” they argued in their lawsuit.

The law is slated to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, but many believe a federal court will block the state from enforcing the law before then.

Some pro-lifers have renewed hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court will uphold an abortion ban and overturn Roe v. Wade. Others, however, are hesitant because of concerns about losing the court battle and being forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.

Recently, a federal judge blocked Kentucky’s new heartbeat bill. In January, a judge also declared Iowa’s heartbeat law unconstitutional. North Dakota and Arkansas passed heartbeat bills several years ago, but federal courts struck down their laws as well.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said the following about its ruling on the six-week abortion ban: “Because there is no genuine dispute that (North Dakota’s law) generally prohibits abortions before viability — as the Supreme Court has defined that concept — and because we are bound by Supreme Court precedent holding that states may not prohibit pre-viability abortions, we must affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs.”

There is more hope that the U.S. Supreme Court may consider an abortion ban, but it is difficult to say if it would for certain.

Other plaintiffs in the Georgia lawsuit include Sistersong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Feminist Women’s Health Center, Atlanta Comprehensive Wellness Clinic, Atlanta Women’s Medical Center, Carafem, Columbus Women’s Health Organization and Summit Medical Associates.

In May, a Hill-HarrisX survey found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive, according to The Hill.