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‘Unequivocally unconstitutional’: Georgia judge overturns heartbeat bill that prevented abortion after 6 weeks

On Tuesday, a Georgia judge overturned the state’s bill that banned abortion after a baby’s heartbeat can be detected, ABC News reported.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney declared that since the bill was passed before the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade, the legislation was “unequivocally unconstitutional.”

The Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act, also referred to as the heartbeat bill, prevented abortions after a baby’s heartbeat could be detected, which typically occurs around six weeks’ gestation.

The law required medical professionals to check for a heartbeat before moving forward with an abortion. The LIFE Act included exceptions for rape and incest but required physicians to report to the Department of Public Health why an abortion was performed after the heartbeat was detectable.

The bill also clarified the state’s definition of a “natural person” to include unborn children with a “detectable human heartbeat” at any stage of development.

The act was signed into law by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) in 2019.

A few months after Roe was overturned, a federal appeals court ruled that the LIFE Act could go into effect.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Georgia, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective filed a lawsuit against the legislation.

Judge McBurney ruled in favor of the pro-abortion groups and voided the bill because it was signed into law before Roe v. Wade was overturned.

“At that time — the spring of 2019 — everywhere in America, including Georgia, it was unequivocally unconstitutional for governments — federal, state, or local — to ban abortions before viability,” McBurney wrote.

“Under Dobbs, it may someday become the law of Georgia, but only after our Legislature determines in the sharp glare of public attention that will undoubtedly and properly attend such an important and consequential debate whether the rights of unborn children justify such a restriction on women’s right to bodily autonomy and privacy,” McBurney added.

Kara Richardson, a spokesperson for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, told the Associated Press that the office intends to pursue an “immediate appeal.”