Georgia's Six-Week Abortion Ban Declared Unconstitutional

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District court decision is the Center's second victory in one day blocking state abortion bans.

07.15.2020

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“It is in the public interest, and is this court’s duty, to ensure constitutional rights are protected,” wrote a federal district court judge in a decision striking down Georgia’s six-week abortion ban.

The ruling came on July 13 in a case brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners: Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the ACLU of Georgia, which together challenged the ban.

The Georgia decision came on the same day of another Center victory, in which a federal district court in Tennessee temporarily blocked that state's ban.

The Georgia law, enacted in 2019, banned abortion from the earliest weeks of pregnancy, before many even know they are pregnant. The law never took effect since the federal district court issued a preliminary injunction blocking it in response to the lawsuit.

The ruling in the case, SisterSong v. Brian Kemp, declared the ban in violation of Roe v. Wade, and permanently blocked it.

Communities of Color Especially Impacted

Abortion restrictions such as the Georgia ban disproportionately impact people of color, people with low incomes, and rural communities, who already face obstacles to accessing care. “Georgia has the worst maternal mortality rate in the country, and Black women in the state are more than three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women,” said Emily Nestler, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Instead of trying to ban abortion, which is a constitutional right, Georgia lawmakers should act to improve the health of pregnant women.”

The plaintiffs in the case include seven women’s health care organizations that are active in Georgia, two of them represented by the Center: Feminist Women’s Health Center and Columbus Women’s Health Organization, P.C.

Also among the plaintiffs are three Emory University School of Medicine professors who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology, and lead plaintiff SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, a Southern-based activist network that fights for reproductive rights and justice.

Georgia’s Ban Is Part of an Ongoing Effort to Deny Access to Abortion

In the past decade, lawmakers have passed more than 450 state laws in an ongoing effort to legislate abortion out of existence. Last year alone, 25 abortion bans were enacted in 12 states, including six-week bans in nine states.

Lawsuits by the Center and other organizations have prevented these illegal bans from taking effect, and abortion care remains legal in all 50 states.

More details, including legal documents and court filings, can be found on the case page on the Center’s website.