“Appropriate reproductive health care has restarted in this state, and it should continue — with Georgia's women and their partners being free to make private decisions about when and whether to have a family, without politicians,” ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young said in a statement.
McBurney ruled Tuesday that the state’s abortion ban was invalid because when it was signed into law in 2019, U.S. Supreme Court precedent under Roe. v. Wade and another ruling allowed abortion well past six weeks. Legislatures exceed their authority when they enact laws that violate a constitutional right declared by the judicial branch, he wrote, adding that such laws are void when they are passed.
The decision immediately prohibited enforcement of the abortion ban statewide. It had been in effect since July and prohibited most abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” was present.
Cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound in cells within an embryo that will eventually become the heart around six weeks into a pregnancy. That means most abortions in Georgia were effectively banned at a point before many people knew they were pregnant.
In his court filing, Petrany noted that Georgia's ban went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade. When judicial precedents are overruled, they were never the law, he wrote.
“No other court has ever held that an overruled judicial opinion can, like a zombie rising from the grave, invalidate otherwise perfectly valid laws,” he claimed.