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Georgia’s Heartbeat Law back in effect!

by | Nov 28, 2022

By Dave Andrusko

Last week, on the day before Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court of Georgia stayed Fulton County Superior Judge Robert McBurney ‘s  November 15th decision to invalidate Georgia’s Heartbeat Bill.  That meant that the Georgia LIFE Act, which would protect unborn children from abortion once an unborn child’s heartbeat can be detected, was immediately back in effect.

“In a one-page order, the high court put a lower court ruling overturning the ban on hold while it considers an appeal,” WSBTV reported. “Abortion providers who had resumed performing the procedure past six weeks after the lower court ruling will again have to stop.”

It’s unclear when the Supreme Court will render a decision.

The 2019 law had been in effect since July until Judge McBurney ordered the state to no longer enforce the law.

Pro-life Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr filed an immediate appeal, according to WSBTV. “Carr’s office also asked the high court for an order putting the decision on hold while the appeal was pending.”  On November 23rd, “the Supreme Court granted an emergency stay of the lower’s court’s ruling, which allowed the heartbeat abortion law to go into effect again as the state’s appeals continue.”

McBurney had maintained that just because the June 24th Dobbs decision “overturned the nearly 50-year-old Roe decision, it did not retroactively make the 2019 passage of Georgia’s abortion law legal,” Maya T. Prabhu of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reported.

But in their appeal, attorneys argued McBurney’s justification for the injunction was invalid.  “Attorneys for the state said it doesn’t matter whether the law was not constitutional when it passed the General Assembly in 2019, it is now in line with the law as established by the Dobbs decision.”

The Associated Press’s Sudhin Thanawal wrote

“Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney’s decision earlier this week was ‘remarkable’ and relied on a ‘wholly unsupported theory that has no basis in law, precedent, or common sense,’ the state attorney general’s office said in court documents filed with the Georgia Supreme Court.

It asked the high court for an order immediately putting McBurney’s decision on hold while the justices take more time to consider an appeal. Such an order would restore the state’s ban on abortion, which started roughly six weeks into pregnancy.

“The harm to the state is significant and irreparable,” the lawyers wrote, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Unborn children are at risk every day that the injunction continues.” 

The Superior Court “fundamentally misunderstood the role of courts, which merely interpret law in the course of issuing judgments in individual cases,” said attorneys for the Attorney General’s office. “Courts do not amend the constitution, and the constitution does not change simply because a court’s view of it changes.” 

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