Georgia high court reinstates abortion ban after 6 weeks

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ATLANTA — The Georgia Supreme Court on Wednesday reinstated the state’s ban on abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.

In a one-page order, the higher court stayed a lower court’s ruling striking down the ban while it considers an appeal. Abortion providers who had resumed the procedure six weeks after the lower court ruling will have to stop again.

The order said that seven of the nine judges had agreed with the decision. He said that one was disqualified and another did not participate.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled Nov. 15 that the state’s abortion ban was invalid because when it became law in 2019, U.S. Supreme Court precedent under gnaws. v. Wade and another ruling allowed abortion well past six weeks.

The decision immediately prohibited the enforcement of the statewide abortion ban. Abortion service providers had resumed the procedure for the past six weeks, though some said they were proceeding cautiously for fear the ban would be reinstated quickly.

The state attorney general’s office appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court. He also applied to the high court for an order to stay the decision while the appeal was pending.

Georgia’s ban went into effect in July, after the US Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. It prohibited most abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” was present.

Heart activity can be detected using ultrasound in cells within an embryo that will eventually develop into the heart at around six weeks of pregnancy. That means most abortions in Georgia were effectively banned before many people even knew they were pregnant.

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