Federal Court Blocks Georgia's Abortion Ban From Taking Effect

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U.S. District Court Judge Blocks a Georgia Law Banning Abortion from the Earliest Weeks in Pregnancy from Going into Effect While the Case is Argued in the Court
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(Press Release) - Today, the U.S. District Court in Atlanta granted a preliminary injunction in a challenge to Georgia’s ban on abortion from the earliest weeks in pregnancy, blocking the law from taking effect and protecting critical health care for more than 2.1 million people of reproductive age. The ban, which was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp in May 2019, would have banned abortion from the earliest weeks of pregnancy, before many people even know they’re pregnant. With a broad coalition of healthcare providers, attorneys for Planned Parenthood, ACLU, and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a challenge to the law, SisterSong v. Brian Kemp, in June.

Nearly half of the more than 300 bills restricting abortion filed this year in state legislatures would severely restrict access to abortion. This year, Georgia was one of seven states, along with Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio, to enact similar abortion bans in early pregnancy. After widespread opposition from business leaders, the film and entertainment industry, and activists across Georgia, the bill passed by a narrow one-vote margin. The $9 billion Georgia film and entertainment industry published letters, threatening to boycott work in Atlanta if the ban was enacted, and more than 6,000 Georgians signed a petition opposing it.

Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said, “This is a victory for people in Georgia and a reminder that these attacks on abortion access are illegal. Abortion is still legal in all 50 states. We won't stop fighting until we defeat all efforts to block access.” 

“The court recognized today that this law is blatantly unconstitutional and a clear attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade,” said Emily Nestler, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Instead of passing laws that restrict the rights of pregnant women, Georgia lawmakers should be implementing policies that help pregnant women. Georgia has the worst maternal mortality rate in the country. Black women in Georgia face the highest risk—they are much more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.”

Staci Fox, president and chief executive officer, Planned Parenthood Southeast, said, “This is a victory for the people of Georgia and the entire nation. Governor Kemp heard from thousands of Georgians who opposed this unconstitutional ban, but he chose to ignore them and sign this into law anyway. In that moment, we made a few promises that we aimed to keep. To the countless Georgians who spoke out against this ban and were ignored, we promised to keep fighting every step of the way and we have. To our partners, we promised we were in this together and we are. To Governor Kemp, we promised to see you in court, and we did. But most importantly, to our patients, we promised to protect access to safe, legal abortion and together we have.”

“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,” said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia.

Meanwhile, the sustained and coordinated effort to ban abortion in states has also triggered a counter-movement of reproductive health champions who introduced 86 bills across 25 states that would protect and expand abortion access. Support for Roe v. Wade is at its highest level on record -- 77% of Americans say they do not want to see Roe overturned. In nearly half the states, champions are pushing for bills that codify abortion rights into state law, repeal harmful policies that create barriers to care, and treat abortion as health care, not a crime. Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont joined nine other states with laws protecting the right to abortion — creating critical backstops to the Trump administration. 

Plaintiffs in the case are doctors, health care providers, and patients, including SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Feminist Women’s Health Center, Planned Parenthood Southeast, Inc., Atlanta Comprehensive Wellness Clinic, Atlanta Women’s Medical Center, Femhealth Usa D/B/A Carafem, Columbus Women’s Health Organization, P.C., Summit Medical Associates, P.C. physicians, staff, and patients, and Dr. Carrie Cwiak, Dr. Lisa Haddad, and Dr. Eva Lathrop on behalf of themselves and their patients.

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MEDIA CONTACTS:
CRR Contact: kkrause@reprorights.org; 917-637-3649  
PPFA Contact: media.office@ppfa.org; 212-261-4433
PPSE Contact: BarbaraAnn.Luttrell@ppse.org; 334-477-8849
ACLU Contact: media@aclu.org 
ACLU-GA Contact: arosato@acluga.org