ATLANTA – Georgia’s “heartbeat” abortion law will continue to operate while a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law is pending, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled Monday.
The order represents a setback for abortion-rights advocates who had argued the judge should immediately block the law while their case against it was pending.
The Georgia law bans most abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy.
Though Georgia’s law was initially adopted in 2019, abortion-rights groups challenged it in federal court and prevented the law from taking effect until this year.
A federal appeals court put Georgia’s law into immediate effect last month, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court opened the way by overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion.
The group of plaintiffs – including reproductive-rights groups Planned Parenthood Southeast and SisterSong – then turned to state courts, claiming that the abortion law violates the Georgia Constitution’s right to privacy.
During last week’s hearing, the groups asked the court to block the Georgia law from taking effect while the lawsuit was pending.
McBurney declined to do so Monday, stating that “the court is dismissing the motion not on its merits but because the court lacks jurisdiction to consider its merits.”
He made clear the case will continue to examine the constitutionality of the abortion law.
“The question of whether it is constitutional for the state to force a woman to carry to term a six-week-old embryo against her wishes, even in the face of serious medical risk, remains to be answered,” McBurney concluded his Monday order.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.