The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Georgia, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit today challenging a new Georgia law banning abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many people know they are pregnant. This law would practically eliminate abortion care in the state and impose an unconstitutional ban on abortion.
The federal lawsuit, brought on behalf of reproductive justice advocates, health care providers, and their patients, seeks immediate relief to prevent enforcement of Georgia’s abortion ban before the January 1, 2020 effective date.The Georgia Legislature passed House Bill 481 (H.B. 481) on March 29, 2019, and the governor signed the bill into law on May 7, 2019.
In their lawsuit, plaintiffs argue that HB 481 bans practically all abortions in the state and disproportionately affects people of color, people struggling financially, and rural Georgians, who are least able to access medical care. Georgians face some of the highest rates of maternal and infant deaths in the nation, especially among Black Georgians.
Georgia is one of several states that have passed laws banning abortion this year, representing an unprecedented surge of legislation designed to initiate a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.
Alabama passed a near total ban; Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Ohio, and Georgia passed six-week bans; Missouri passed an eight-week ban; and Utah and Arkansas passed 18-week bans. None of these bans have gone into effect. Some have been temporarily blocked by a court and others are being challenged before their effective dates. Abortion is still legal in all 50 states.
This year alone the ACLU has challenged similar abortion bans in Kentucky and Ohio, a near total ban in Alabama, and an 18-week ban in Arkansas, among other litigation.
Plaintiffs are SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and a wide-range of health care providers: Feminist Women’s Health Center, Planned Parenthood Southeast, Inc., Atlanta Comprehensive Wellness Clinic, Atlanta Women’s Medical Center, FemHealth USA d/b/a carafem, Columbus Women’s Health Organization, P.C., Summit Medical Associates, P.C., Carrie Cwiak, M.D., M.P.H., Lisa Haddad, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., and Eva Lathrop, M.D., M.P.H.
Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief to hold Georgia’s abortion ban unconstitutional and unenforceable.
UPDATE (October 2019): The U.S. District Court in Atlanta blocked the abortion ban, which was scheduled to take effect January 1, 2020. The court’s ruling blocks the law’s implementation as litigation proceeds.