A Georgia law that would have banned abortions once a fetal heartbeat was detected was blocked Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones.
House Bill 481, also known as the “Heartbeat Bill,” was challenged in court by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood as being unconstitutional.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Jones said in his ruling the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Roe vs. Wade, the landmark case that made abortion legal, and that a state may not ban abortion.
“What is clearly defined, however, is that under no circumstances whatsoever may a state prohibit or ban abortions at any point prior to viability, no matter what interests the state asserts to support it,” the ruling said. “By banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, HB 481 prohibits women from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy at a point before viability.”
The ACLU and others praised the ruling.
“This case has always been about one thing: letting her decide. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but every woman is entitled to her own decision,” said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia in a statement posted on the organization’s website.
Georgia Right to Life tweeted that the ruling was “another act of judicial activism against innocent life.”
“We will continue defending HB481 to prevent Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Georgia from turning back the clock on human rights in Georgia,” the pro-life organization tweeted.
In a statement to multiple media outlets, Gov. Brian Kemp said he remained confident in his position and would review the decision.
“We will continue to fight for the unborn and work to ensure that all Georgians have the opportunity to live, grow, and prosper,” Kemp said.
Several states have passed stricter abortion laws. Portions of a Virginia abortion law were upheld Tuesday, according to the Washington Post. A federal judge kept provisions that would require women to have ultrasounds at least 24 hours before an abortion and for the procedures to be performed by physicians.
Court challenges also are expected in other states that have passed abortion bills including South Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky.