The Georgia Supreme Court allowed the state’s ban on most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy to once again take effect, reversing a lower court’s ruling that blocked enforcement of the 2019 law last week.
The justices on Wednesday granted a request for an emergency order brought by the state’s attorney general’s office. The state had quickly appealed the decision of Judge Robert McBurney of the Superior Court of Fulton County that allowed clinics in the state to resume appointments after six weeks of pregnancy.
Judge McBurney’s ruling on Nov. 15 permanently blocked enforcement of the state’s six-week abortion ban, finding the 2019 law was clearly unlawful at the time the state legislature passed it.
In his order, Judge McBurney said there has been a sea change in abortion law following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June that overturned Roe v. Wade and ended federal constitutional protections for the procedure. He didn’t rule on whether an abortion ban passed in the future would violate the state’s constitution, noting that the legislature could revisit the issue and pass a new law. . . .
About a dozen states have enforced bans on nearly all abortions in the months since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision. The legal battles that followed have created an uncertain and shifting landscape for abortion providers and patients in some places, prompting some clinics to open and close their doors more than once.
State courts continue to consider whether state constitutions protect the right to an abortion, an argument abortion-rights groups have made in their challenges to the bans. Lawmakers in a handful of states, meanwhile, are wrestling with whether and to what to extent to regulate abortion.
This is a plausible issue in Georgia, whose state Supreme Court has interpreted the Georgia Constitution in ways that have gone beyond the Federal Constitutions right to privacy.