Georgia Supreme Court will have final say on controversial heartbeat abortion law

ATLANTA — Just days after a Fulton County judge ruled that Georgia’s heartbeat abortion law was unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court will have the final say.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot spoke with state lawmakers on both sides on Thursday. They say will not try new abortion legislation until the Supreme Court makes its ruling.

The law, which was signed in July, bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is typically around six weeks into the pregnancy.

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Judge Robert McBurney’s ruling came in a lawsuit that sought to strike down the ban on multiple grounds, including that it violates the Georgia Constitution’s right to privacy and liberty by forcing pregnancy and childbirth on women in the state.

Judge McBurney did not rule that the law itself was unconstitutional, only that it was unconstitutional because it was passed when Roe v. Wade was still in effect.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr filed an immediate appeal with the Georgia Supreme Court.

However, when lawmakers reconvene in January, they are allowed by state law to reintroduce the bill. If passed, it would become law again.


Georgia Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch, a Republican from Dahlonega, told Elliot they plan to wait and see what the Supreme Court says before taking new action in the legislature.

“We’re just going to sit back and wait, and let the courts take its course, and we’ll be ready to respond once that decision is made,” State Sen. Gooch said.

House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration, a Republican from Dacula, agreed that the court needs to decide what to do next.

“What I expect is the appellate process will work its way through. This opinion will be considered, and the appellate, it will, ultimately with the Georgia Supreme Court having an opportunity to render an opinion,” Efstration said.

Even if they do make a second attempt, Republicans may not have enough votes to pass the law a second time.

Democrat Mary Margaret Oliver told Elliot that waiting on the Supreme Court will be good for everyone.

“The chaos that the 481 bill is causing is significant, and perhaps waiting will relive some of the chaos that women are experiencing,” Oliver said.

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While Carr has filed a notice of appeal, it will take his office some time to work up the actual appeal, meaning it could be months before the Supreme Court hears the case and can make a ruling.