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Morning headlines: "Heartbeat law" takes effect in Georgia

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Nicole Jordan / file
Activists from all over gathered in downtown Athens to fight for abortion rights on Saturday, June 25 2022

A federal appeals court has overturned a lower court ruling, allowing Georgia’s restrictive 2019 abortion law to take effect.

The Georgia law bans most abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” is present. Cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound in cells within an embryo that will eventually become the heart as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. That's before many women realize they’re pregnant.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Mississippi case that overturned Roe v. Wade clears the way for the law to take effect. The Georgia law had been on hold.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden visits Athens today

First Lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will visit Athens on Thursday. The visit comes as part of a three-state tour promoting how President Biden's American Rescue Plan (ARP) is supporting students in getting caught up through summer learning programs.

The First Lady and Secretary Cardona will travel to summer learning and enrichment programs in Connecticut, Michigan, and Georgia that use funding from the ARP to address the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on students’ academic and mental health needs.

Biden is scheduled to visit a Horizons National summer learning program, held at the University of Georgia and serving students from Barnett Shoals Elementary School.

Marijuana decriminalization on track for August vote

Athens-Clarke County commissioners discussed the issue of decriminalizing marijuana this week.

During an agenda setting session Tuesday, commissioners decided to vote at their August 2 meeting whether or not to decriminalize. It would still be illegal to possess marijuana in the county but the violation would only carry a one dollar fine if someone is caught with less than an ounce. It is a felony in Georgia to possess greater than an ounce.

Commissioners Mariah Parker, Tim Denson and Jesse Houle expressed support for going a step further by eliminating possession as a reason for police to invoke probable cause.

Report: Some counties continue election audits

The AJC reports that efforts continue in several Georgia counties to audit Georgia election results.

The elections board in Pickens County voted to ask a judge to unseal ballots from this year’s primary in order to confirm whether vote counts by optical scanning machines are accurate. The count, though, would not change election results since they have been certified.

Cherokee County’s election board is scheduled to vote next month on whether to seek to unseal ballots for a full audit after it completed an initial audit of seven precincts earlier this month, which found small discrepancies between the audit and original count.

A few other Georgia counties have pursued audits of this year’s elections, including Oconee and Bartow counties, both which showed identical results when comparing hand and computer counts.

Alexia Ridley joined WUGA as Television and Radio News Anchor and Reporter in 2013. When WUGA TV concluded operations, she became the primary Reporter for WUGA Radio. Alexia came to Athens from Macon where she served as the News Director and show host for WGXA TV. She's a career journalist and Savannah native hailing from the University of Michigan. However, Alexia considers herself an honorary UGA DAWG!
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