A federal judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has permanently blocked Georgia’s “heartbeat” abortion law, ruling the legislation is unconstitutional.
Judge Steve Jones, an Obama appointee, had temporarily blocked the law in October.
The law would have banned abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected at about six or seven weeks of pregnancy.
Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed the legislation, called the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act (HB481), into law in May 2019. It allowed for exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger.
Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit the following month, arguing the law is unconstitutional.
The Georgia law was the subject of much controversy as it worked its way through the state legislature.
In response to the “heartbeat” measure, five female Democrats in the Georgia state House introduced a bill that would have required men middle-aged and older to report their ejaculations to a county sheriff.
Actress and political activist Alyssa Milano also called for Hollywood film companies to boycott the state once its Senate passed the measure. Georgia is a top filming location in the world because of its generous tax credits.
Milano then followed with a call for a sex strike – urging women to engage in abstinence from sex – to protest the end to “reproductive rights.”
Disney and Netflix threatened to boycott the state, even though both film companies have continued and even stepped up filming in other countries in which abortion is illegal or highly restricted.
The Writers Guild of America threatened a boycott as well if the Heartbeat bill was signed into law.
Planned Parenthood announced the court’s decision on Twitter:
Breaking: A Federal Court permanently struck down Georgia’s 2019 six-week abortion ban. The law was in clear violation of Roe v. Wade and nearly a half century of Supreme Court precedent.
— Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates (@PPSE_Advocates) July 13, 2020