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State Supreme Court reinstates Georgia’s six-week abortion ban


ATLANTA (CNS) — The Georgia Supreme Court on Nov. 23 reinstated a law banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, about six weeks into a pregnancy.

The law makes exceptions to save the mother’s life and in cases of rape or incest, if a police report is filed. It also made exceptions to allow abortions when a fetus has serious medical problems.

The High Court issued a one-page order suspending a lower court ruling overturning the ban while it considers an appeal.

On November 15, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney overturned the ban.

He ruled it unconstitutional and violated Supreme Court precedent when it was signed into law in 2019. His decision, based on a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, took effect immediately.

The state attorney general’s office filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court.

When McBurney issued his ruling overturning Georgia’s abortion ban, Archbishop of Atlanta Gregory J. Hartmayer said, “As I have said before, regardless of the law, we must commit to defending the dignity of life for all. . This includes mothers, fathers and their children.

“If you’re scared and alone with a pregnancy, there are people who want to help you – people who will see you and your family through to birth and beyond through programs like Walking with Moms in Need,” he added.

Archbishop Hartmayer challenged congregants “to do something for a family right here in Georgia that needs love and support” during Advent and Christmas preparations.

“Someone needs your prayer, your time or your donations,” he said. “This way, you can join our advocates as they continue their work with legislators and other community leaders to build and sustain a culture of life.”

Georgia’s “Heartbeat” Act — officially the Living Infants Equity and Equality Act, or LIFE Act — was signed into law by Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in May 2019.

It was originally supposed to go into effect on January 1, 2020, but Judge Steve C. Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia temporarily blocked it in October 2019 while a lawsuit against it was being argued. He later made a permanent break from it, saying the law violated abortion protections established by Roe v. Wade.

Then came the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe in its June 24 Dobbs decision and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s request to lift the injunction on state law.

On July 20, the United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the United States District Court’s decision that blocked the law. The appeals court’s decision follows the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.

That same month, the ACLU filed its lawsuit asking Judge McBurney to strike down the law.

Read more Respect life

Copyright © 2022 Catholic News Service/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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