ATLANTA — The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Georgia, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit today on behalf of plaintiffs, including doctors, health care providers, and their patients challenging Georgia’s abortion ban, set to take effect on January 1, 2020. The law bans abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many people even know they are pregnant.
The ACLU has challenged similar abortion bans in Kentucky and Ohio and a near total ban in Alabama, an 18-week ban in Arkansas, among other litigation. 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 the effective date. Abortion is still legal in all 50 states.
Monica Simpson, executive director of SisterSong and a plaintiff in the case, said: “As a reproductive justice organization based in Georgia for over 20 years, SisterSong is committed to centering and amplifying the needs of those communities historically pushed to the margins. Georgia’s maternal mortality rate is the second highest in the nation and Black women in our state are dying at six times the national average. SisterSong is bringing this lawsuit to protect maternal health and reproductive rights so that every person — especially persons of color — can thrive in their families and communities as well as maintain their human right to make their own decisions about their reproductive lives.”
“This legislation is blatantly unconstitutional under nearly 50 years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Politicians should never second guess women’s health care decisions,” said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia. “Politicians have no business telling women or a couple when to start or expand a family. Our lawsuit asks the court to block the law from taking effect on January 1, 2020.”
Kwajelyn J. Jackson, executive director of Feminist Women’s Health Center, said: “Feminist Women’s Health Center has been providing comprehensive reproductive health services, including abortion care, to Georgians since 1976 and mobilizing in our communities since 1996. We are challenging this unconstitutional law because we are committed to serving our patients, and to a vision of Georgia where reproductive justice is fully realized for everyone. This clinic stays open.”
“In a state with a critical shortage of medical providers and some of the highest rates of maternal and infant deaths, especially among Black Georgians, politicians should focus on expanding access to reproductive care, not banning abortion before someone even knows they’re pregnant,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
The organizations bringing forward the lawsuit represent a wide-range of health providers, including SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, 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.
The defendants in the case are Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Attorney General Christopher M. Carr, Commissioner for the Department of Public Health Kathleen Toomey, the Executive Director and Members of the Georgia Composite Medical Board, and the district attorneys for the counties where the plaintiffs provide medical care — all sued in their official capacities.
SisterSong v. Kemp was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.
The complaint is available here: