BREAKING: Judge overturns Georgia’s six-week abortion ban

  • Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney overturned Georgia’s ban on abortions in a ruling Tuesday
  • The state enacted a law in July banning abortions once a ‘detectable human heartbeat’ is present
  • Cardiac activity can be detected by an ultrasound as early as six weeks into a woman’s pregnancy — when a woman may not know she is pregnant
  • Georgia state officials are already set to appeal the decision 

A state judge has overturned Georgia‘s ban on abortions starting at about six weeks after a woman becomes pregnant.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled on Tuesday that the state can no longer enforce its ban on abortions once a ‘detectable human heartbeat’ is present.

Abortions rights activists have argued that cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound in cells within an embryo that will eventually turn into the heart as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — when a woman may not even know she is pregnant.

Any doctor found to be performing abortions would be prosecuted under the law.

Georgia legislators had originally passed the law in 2019, but it did not take effect until July of this year — following the Supreme Court‘s historic ruling overturning a women’s right to an abortion.

But under McBurney’s ruling, abortions can only be regulated as they were before the state’s law took effect over the summer, meaning the procedure is now once again allowed up until 22 weeks of pregnancy. 

Georgia state officials are set to appeal the decision, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, after McBurney previously denied state attorney’s motion to dismiss the suit.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled on Tuesday that the state can no longer enforce its ban on abortions once a ‘detectable human heartbeat’ is present

A group of abortion rights activists are pictured here sitting on the steps of the Georgia State Capitol in June protesting the overturning of Roe v Wade

A group of abortion rights activists are pictured here sitting on the steps of the Georgia State Capitol in June protesting the overturning of Roe v Wade

Protesters also marched in the streets of Atlanta, Georgia following the Supreme Court's decision

Protesters also marched in the streets of Atlanta, Georgia following the Supreme Court’s decision 

Abortion rights activists had argued in court that when the law passed the state legislature in 2019, Roe v Wade — the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout the United States — had not yet been overturned.

State law, they argued, prevented the legislature from enacting any statutes that violate federal law.

They also argued that the abortion ban violates Georgia’s Constitution’s right to privacy and liberty by forcing pregnancy and childbirth on women. 

But state lawyers argued the law should remain in effect because ‘abortion always harms a third party,’ namely the embryo or fetus. 

McBurney ultimately agreed with the abortion activists, writing in his decision Tuesday that when the law was enacted under Gov. Brian Kemp, ‘everywhere in America, including Georgia, it was unequivocally unconstitutional for governments federal, state or local —to ban abortions before viability.’ 

He said his ‘means that courts — not legislatures — define the law.

‘If the courts have spoken, clearly and directly, as to what the law is, and to what is and is not constitutional, legislatures and legislators are not at liberty to pass laws contrary to such pronouncements.’ 

McBurney concluded by writing the state’s law ‘did not become the law of Georgia when it was enacted, and it is not the law of Georgia now.’ 

The abortion ban passed the state legislature and was signed into law under Gov Brian Kemp in 2019. He is pictured here addressing his supporters on election night

The abortion ban passed the state legislature and was signed into law under Gov Brian Kemp in 2019. He is pictured here addressing his supporters on election night

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