In what pro-choice groups are calling a win for women's reproductive rights, a state Superior Court judge suspended a Georgia law banning abortions that was set to take effect Jan. 1.
In a Friday order, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Doris Downs suspended a Georgia law that bans doctors from performing abortions five months after an egg is fertilized, except when doctors decide a fetus has a defect so severe it is unlikely to live.
The law makes an exception to protect the life or health of the mother, though that does not apply to a mother’s mental health, SavannahNow.com reported.
As a result, last month, the Georgia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of three obstetricians saying the law violates the state’s privacy protections as provided for in the Georgia Constitution.
According to the Associated Press, the suit says the law forces doctors to make an "untenable choice" since they would face criminal prosecution for providing treatment their patients seek. An ACLU lawyer argued the law would cause irreparable harm to the doctors' patients.
But state attorneys argued to Downs that blocking the law from taking effect, even temporarily, would harm the state by going against the will of the Georgia's elected legislative body. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Sam Olens did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon, SavannahNow.com writes.
"This law places women in harm’s way by depriving them of the right to make their own serious medical decisions,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, according to a press release. “Politicians should not place ideology over a woman's health."
The bill, which Governor Nathan Deal signed, made Georgia the seventh state to adopt such a law, LifeNews.com writes.
Nebraska, Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma have already approved similar bills and other states are considering them.
Under existing Georgia law, women can seek an abortion for any reason during the first six months of pregnancy. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states can limit abortions when there is a reasonable chance the fetus could survive outside the womb. That is generally considered to be no earlier than 23 weeks.
The abortion controversy has revolved around state attempts at balancing a woman's right to choose an abortion with the state's attempts to protect unborn life.
Prior to January 22, 1973, the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court that a woman had a constitutional right to an abortion, a woman had to meet someone in a parking lot late at night and be taken to some unknown place to have an abortion, not knowing if she would survive what became known as "back-alley procedures."