Judges block six-week abortion bans in Georgia and Tennessee

The bills, passed in Georgia in the spring of 2019 and in Tennessee last month, prohibit abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which can occur as early as six weeks of pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant.
The bills highlight the long battle over abortion rights that is unfolding in state legislatures. That confrontation recently reached the Supreme Court, where Chief Justice John Roberts moved to block a controversial Louisiana law that restricts access to abortion by siding with liberal judges, while potentially leaving the door. open to more state abortion limits.
Federal District Judge Steve Jones of Georgia, who temporarily blocked the law in October, cited Supreme Court decisions Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey who uphold a woman’s right to a pre-feasibility abortion in her decision to repeal the law permanently on Monday.

“In summary, the indisputable material facts in this case lead to an indisputable conclusion: that Section 4 of HB 481, by prohibiting a woman from terminating her pregnancy by detecting a fetal heartbeat, constitutes a prohibition of prefeasible abortion.” Jones wrote.

He added: “As this prohibition directly conflicts with the binding precedent of the Supreme Court (that is, the central possessions in Roe, Casey and her progeny) and, therefore, infringes on a woman’s constitutional right to obtain an abortion before viability, the Court is left with no other option than to declare it unconstitutional. “

CNN has contacted Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp’s office, who was named in the lawsuit, for comment.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, representing various abortion service providers, challenged the law in June 2019. Monica Simpson – executive director of abortion service provider SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, called the decision “tremendous.”

“No one should have to live in a world where their bodies and their reproductive decision-making are controlled by the state,” he said in a statement. “And we will continue to work to make sure that is never a reality in Georgia or anywhere else.”

In Tennessee, a federal judge temporarily blocked the state bill from taking effect after Governor Bill Lee, a Republican, signed it into law the same day. The ACLU, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood and several Tennessee abortion providers had challenged the bill in federal court last month the same day that state lawmakers approved it, filing a lawsuit against the attorney general for Tennessee Herbert Slatery and other state officials.

“The Act will immediately impact abortion seeking patients and impose criminal penalties on abortion service providers,” United States District Judge William Campbell wrote of the law, citing “the urgent nature of the procedure.”

Campbell added that abortion rights groups “have demonstrated a strong or substantial likelihood of success based on their claims that the restrictions (in law) are unconstitutional under current law.”

CNN has reached out to Lee’s office for comment.

Samantha Fisher, a spokeswoman for Slatery, said in a statement: “The Court issued a temporary restraining order to maintain the status quo. We look forward to the next step, citing the merits at a preliminary injunction hearing.”

Tennessee joined not only Georgia, but also Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio to pass similar bills. All have been prevented from entering into force by legal actions.

The Tennessee bill made exceptions to protect women’s lives, but not in cases of rape or incest. Georgia had some exceptions for situations of medical futility or where the mother’s health is at risk, as well as in cases of rape or incest before 20 weeks, if an official police report has been filed.

CNN’s Ariane de Vogue contributed to this report.