Abortion Supporters Sue Georgia over ‘Heartbeat’ Law: ‘Dehumanizes’ Women to Call ‘Cells Growing Inside of Us’ Human

Picture of a figure representing a three-month-old fetus taken on March 12, 2008 at the altar of the Catholic church Nossa Senhora da Paz in Rio de Janiero's Ipanema neighbourhood on March 12, 2008 where it was put to protest against abortion. More than 600 such figures were distributed among …
VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit Friday in Atlanta, challenging a new law in Georgia that bans most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The two organizations joined the Center for Reproductive Rights in the lawsuit that represents Georgia abortion providers and asks the court to block the law, titled the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, from taking effect on January 1, 2020.

“We will not accept any law that dehumanizes us in an attempt to assign humanity to cells that are growing inside of us,” said Kwajelyn Jackson, executive director of Feminist Women’s Health Center, a plaintiff challenging the law, reported the Associated Press.

Sean Young, ACLU of Georgia legal director, said the lawsuit hopes “to ensure that everyone has the freedom to make their own health care decisions without politicians looking over their shoulder and the freedom to decide for themselves when to start or expand a family.”

A fetal heartbeat can usually be detected by the sixth or seventh week of pregnancy. According to the new law, once the heartbeat is discovered, abortion is banned, except in cases of rape, incest – if a police report is filed first – or if the life of the mother is endangered.

Georgia Rep. Ed Setzler, who sponsored the legislation, said the lawsuit is “not unexpected.”

“But I believe that Georgia has proceeded with common sense, with the support of science and on a legally sound foundation that’ll ultimately be upheld in our courts,” he added, observing that Georgia has distinctly established the full “personhood” of the unborn child across the legal code in its “heartbeat” law.

The legislation has drawn threats of boycotts from Hollywood film industry companies since Georgia is a major production hub in the country owing to its generous tax credits. However, even giants like Disney and Netflix have continued and even stepped up film production in other countries in which abortion is illegal as they threaten to leave Georgia.

Last week, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU also asked a federal judge to block an Arkansas law that bans abortions at 18 weeks of pregnancy. That law takes effect July 24.

In May, the two abortion rights organizations also filed a federal lawsuit against Alabama’s law that bans most abortions in the state, except those to prevent a serious health risk to the mother.

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