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Ga. Judge Grants Injunction Against 20-Week Abortion Ban

Ga. Judge Grants Injunction Against 20-Week Abortion Ban

January 3, 2013 — Fulton County Superior Court Judge Doris Downs on Dec. 21 issued a preliminary injunction against a Georgia law (HB 954) that bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The measure was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed the lawsuit on behalf of three obstetricians (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/24/12).

The law does not allow exceptions for rape or incest, most cases of severe fetal anomaly or danger to a woman's health. It does permit abortions after 20 weeks if the fetus will not survive or if there is a "medical emergency," defined as "any condition which, in reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of a pregnant female as to necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death" or for which a delay would risk irreversible impairment of a bodily function for the woman or death of the fetus (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/3/12).

Arguments

ACLU of Georgia said the law "infringes on the fundamental right of a woman to decide whether and when to bear a child" (Beasely, Bloomberg Businessweek, 12/26/12). That right is ensured by the state constitution's "particularly strong protections of privacy," according to Debbie Seagraves, executive director of ACLU of Georgia (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/24/12).

The state countered that ACLU of Georgia was asking the court to find a right to abortion in the state's constitution. However, a "careful review of the text and history of the Georgia Constitution will reveal that such a right does not exist," state Attorney General Sam Olens (R) argued (Bloomberg Businessweek, 12/26/12).

Downs will rule later on the merits of the lawsuit (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/24/12).