Georgia Supreme Court Upholds 6-Week Abortion Limit

Baby's Feet on Brown Wicker Basket

The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the state’s law on Tuesday limiting abortion to six weeks of pregnancy, when a fetal heartbeat can typically be detected.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act in 2019, and the law went into effect in 2022 after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a 1973 decision which had created a supposed “right” to abortion. Pro-abortion groups filed a lawsuit in response, arguing that the pro-life law violates rights to privacy, liberty, and equal protection guaranteed by the state constitution.

A Fulton County Superior Court judge previously sided with plaintiffs, the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and pro-abortion organizations. The judge called the law “plainly unconstitutional” because it was passed in 2019, when Roe v. Wade was still in effect.

The state Supreme Court reversed that order 6-1 and ruled that the law did not violate the U.S. Constitution when enacted in 2019 and currently complies with the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe.

“The holdings of United States Supreme Court cases interpreting the United States Constitution that have since been overruled cannot establish that a law was unconstitutional when enacted,” Justice Verda Colvin wrote for the majority.

“Because Dobbs is controlling precedent on whether the United States Constitution confers a right to abortion, and because the parties and the trial court do not dispute that the LIFE Act complies with Dobbs, it follows that the LIFE Act did not violate the United States Constitution when enacted in 2019,” Colvin wrote. 

The Georgia Supreme Court remanded the case back to the trial court to rule on other claims brought by the pro-abortion groups against the law.

Powerhouse D.C.-based boutique law firm Schaerr Jaffe worked with the Georgia Attorney General’s Office to defend the heartbeat law.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision and will continue to defend the constitutionality of Georgia’s LIFE Act,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr told Breitbart News.

Leading pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America also celebrated the ruling in a statement via email.

“Today’s Georgia Supreme Court decision ensures that tens of thousands of children with beating hearts will continue to be protected from brutal abortions. It is the latest vindication of the will of Georgians, who have compassion for both babies and mothers, along with lawmakers like Governor Kemp and many others who heard them and acted,” SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser said.

“Twenty-five states — half the country — have pro-life protections in their law in the new Dobbs era. The majority of these states protect unborn children at least when their heartbeat can be detected, a point when science shows they have more than a 90 percent chance of surviving to birth,” Dannenfelser continued. “We congratulate Governor Kemp, Attorney General Carr, all our local allies, and the people of Georgia on a long and well-fought battle. Life is winning in hearts and minds nationwide. When you lead and stand boldly for life, Americans will stand with you.”

Pro-abortion organizations bemoaned the ruling, and claimed Georgian’s will face “irreparable harm” because of the pro-life law protecting unborn babies. 

“Planned Parenthood Southeast’s health centers remain open, and we will continue to provide abortion care in Georgia under the severe restrictions of this law — but we know that’s not enough. Make no mistake: Today’s decision will cause irreparable harm to the people of Georgia, the majority of whom want abortion to be legal,” said Carol McDonald, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates. 

“At the ballot box in 2024 and beyond, Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates intends to make sure that Gov. Kemp, AG Carr and their anti-abortion allies in the legislature answer for the public health crisis they’ve created across our state, which has forced so many to remain pregnant against their will or flee their communities for basic health care,” McDonald continued. “We and our partners will keep fighting for Georgians’ ability to control their own bodies, lives, and futures — no matter what.”

Andrew Young, executive director for the ACLU of Georgia, also looked ahead to the hopes of successful abortion ballot measure in 2024. 

“Today’s ruling is not the end of this fight for women’s healthcare,” Young said. “Be clear, the right to abortion is on the ballot in 2024. Gov. Brian Kemp and the Georgia legislature acted to take away our rights. The Georgia legislature can restore our rights and we must organize to elect a pro-choice legislature.”

Georgia’s pro-life law also notably counts babies in the womb as part of the state’s population, allows parents to claim the unborn as dependents on state income taxes, and allows mothers to receive child support from the beginning of pregnancy.

“As of 2019, data show Georgia’s pregnancy centers also provided $8 million in services and aid to more than 48,000 women, men, youth and families,” SBA Pro-Life America noted. 

The case is SisterSong v. State of Georgia, No. S23M0358 in the Supreme Court of Georgia. 

Katherine Hamilton is a political reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow her on X @thekat_hamilton.


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