Georgia sued over fetal heartbeat abortion ban
©WikiMedia (Stefan Bellini)
Georgia sued over fetal heartbeat abortion ban

A coalition comprised of organizations including SisterSong Women of Color, Feminist Women’s Health Center, and Planned Parenthood Southeast filed a lawsuit on Friday against Georgia’s government officials.

The complaint explains that House Bill 481 “bans practically all abortions,” and “criminalize[s] abortion from the earliest stages of pregnancy.” This is in conflict with Roe v. Wade, which refused to criminalize pre-viability abortion.

Georgia’s legislature is attempting to arbitrarily define embryonic cardiac activity as a threshold for abortion access. Cardiac activity typically develops around the six-week mark, when many people are just learning they are pregnant.

The complaint explains that the bill will have a “chilling effect on health care providers across Georgia,” due to the vagueness of the new law. Potential criminal liability threatens physicians with prosecution, reducing their willingness to provide care. This will affect patient decisions by restricting their care options. The six-week rule will force patients to travel out of state to seek medical care if they do not wish “remain pregnant and give birth against their will.”

The lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction, preventing Georgia’s government from enforcing H.B. 481. The court is also being asked to determine whether Georgia’s bill violates the Fourteenth Amendment based on controlling interpretations about protections for the right to privacy and liberty.

The effective date of H.B. 481 is currently January 1, 2020.