HomeoldGeorgia Supreme Court Upholds Heartbeat Law, reversing lower court decision

Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Heartbeat Law, reversing lower court decision

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In a near unanimous 6-1 vote, the Georgia Supreme Court this morning overturned a lower court ruling that would have prevented the state’s Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act from taking effect. The legislation, colloquially designated as the ‘Heartbeat Bill’, permits abortion only in instances where a fetal heartbeat can be discerned, typically around six weeks.

On 15 November, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled that the law was “unequivocally unconstitutional” due to its enactment in 2019, at a time when Roe v. Wade was still in effect. The state Supreme Court permitted the enforcement of the ban to resume, however, while it considered an appeal of Judge McBurney’s decision.

In a statement, pro-life Governor Brian Kemp asserted that the court’s decision marks a significant step towards the resolution of this litigation and the protection of the lives of Georgians of all ages. Furthermore, Chris Carr, the Attorney General of Georgia, stated that the court’s decision was a positive one and that the state would continue to defend the constitutionality of the Georgia LIFE Act.

In the case of State of Georgia v. SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective et al, Justice Verda Colvin stated that when the United States Supreme Court overrules its own precedent interpreting the United States Constitution, it is then obliged to apply the Court’s new interpretation of the Constitution’s meaning on matters of federal constitutional law.

In a recent report, Sudhin Thanawala of the Associated Press provided insight into the current situation.

McBurney had said the law was void on its face, so the measure did not become law when it was enacted and could not become law even after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.

State officials challenging the decision pointed to the Supreme Court’s finding that Roe v. Wade was an incorrect interpretation of the US Constitution. Because the Constitution has not changed, they argued, Georgia’s ban was valid when it was enacted.

In Tuesday’s ruling, Colvin said McBurney’s decision was based on a “flawed premise” – that the US Supreme Court changed the meaning of the US Constitution when it overturned Roe.

The court does not have that power, she said, so the Constitution “means today what it meant when” Georgia’s ban was enacted in 2019.

The Georgia Supreme Court remanded the case to Judge McBurney to rule on the claim that the Georgia Constitution provides for a “right to privacy” that would render the abortion law unconstitutional.


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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