Protesters opposed to a proposed abortion bill fill the hallway on Monday, March 18, 2019, in Atlanta. A Georgia Senate committee approved a measure that would ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Tuesday morning, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down an earlier decision which upheld the constitutionality of Roe vs. Wade, thereby reinstating abortion bans in the State of Georgia when the embryo is at least six weeks old. The ruling sends the case back to lower courts to debate the legality of the law on other grounds. Previously, an abortion in Georgia was legal up until 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Included in the law, is a “personhood provision.” The law states an unborn child is a “natural person” with rights and privileges.

Additionally, a pregnant mother residing in the State of Georgia will now be able to seek child support from the father of her unborn child for up to the total cost of all direct medical and pregnancy related expenses. Once the child is born, Georgia’s child support law would kick in.

This was a culmination of three years of legislative fights and additional fights in the courts. First, the Georgia’s Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, was written in 2019 and it bans most abortions the moment “a detectable human heartbeat” is present. Cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound in cells within an embryo that will become the heart. That process could take place as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many pregnancies are detected. 

“I applaud Justice Colvin and the Georgia Supreme Court for ruling today that our written Constitution controls over judge-made law,” said Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. “Today’s victory represents one more step towards ending this litigation and ensuring the lives of Georgians at all ages are protected.”

“Today’s Georgia Supreme Court decision ensures that tens of thousands of children with beating hearts will continue to be protected from brutal abortions. It is the latest vindication of the will of Georgians, who have compassion for both babies and mothers, along with lawmakers like Governor Kemp and many others who heard them and acted,” said SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Twenty-five states – half the country – have pro-life protections in their law in the new Dobbs era. The majority of these states protect unborn children at least when their heartbeat can be detected, a point when science shows they have more than a 90% chance of surviving to birth.

However, the viability of a fetus is usually determined by the 24th week of gestation. Which means if the baby is born premature, the survival rate is around 50%, depending upon factors such as access to healthcare.

“Today’s decision in Georgia is a direct result of Donald Trump, Brian Kemp, and MAGA Republicans’ attacks on a woman’s fundamental freedom to make her own health care decisions,” said Biden-Harris 2024 Campaign Manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez in a written statement in response to the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the state’s six-week abortion ban. “As MAGA Republicans running for president champion a national abortion ban, the stakes couldn’t be higher: This election could determine whether every woman in America faces the same terrifying reality Georgians will now face.”

People gather in front of the Georgia State Capital in Atlanta, Friday, June 24, 2022, to protest the Supreme Court decision striking down Roe v. Wade (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

While the law includes exceptions for rape and incest only if a police report is filed. The law also permits later abortions when the mother’s life is at risk or a serious medical condition renders a fetus no longer viable.

“I am saddened by the decision today,” said Georgia House Minority Leader James Beverly, a Democrat from Macon. “Despite the setback, our commitment remains unwavering. We will continue to advocate for healthcare rights in the legislature and partner with them in striving to repeal HB 481 – Georgia’s abortion ban.”

In 2019, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney voided Georgia’s abortion ban under the belief that it was unconstitutional when the General Assembly passed the bill due to the fact Roe vs. Wade was still law of the land at the time. However, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp continued to fight the ruling.

Roe v. Wade was struck down by the United States Supreme Court on June 24, 2022. Soon after, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to let the state’s law take effect. In November 2022, Judge McBurney voided Georgia’s abortion ban under the belief that it was unconstitutional when the General Assembly passed the bill due to the fact Roe vs. Wade was still law of the land in 2019. 

“We remember the day that this measure narrowly passed by one vote and during the past 3.5 years of legal action, we have continued to learn that one in three women will have an abortion,” said Georgia State Representative Park Cannon, a Democrat from Atlanta. “Today, family choice and bodily autonomy for all Georgians have been ignored. Still, we remain confident that providers will respect their Hippocratic oath to “do no harm” when presented with clients in need while we continue to fight for legislative remedy.”

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...