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Trial to decide legality of 'heartbeat bill' begins

(File-May 2019) Kemp signs heartbeat bill.
(File-May 2019) Kemp signs heartbeat bill.

A trial to determine whether Georgia’s ‘heartbeat’ abortion ban can remain in effect is set to begin in an Atlanta courtroom Monday.

Two days of testimony have been scheduled for a lawsuit that claims the ban violates the Georgia Constitution’s right to privacy and liberty by “forcing pregnancy and childbirth upon countless Georgians.” The doctors and advocacy groups who filed the lawsuit argue that the law, passed in 2019, also violated the U.S Constitution and Supreme Court precedent when it was enacted.

Georgia’s law bans most abortions once cardiac activity can be detected in an ultrasound- as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, often before many women know they are pregnant. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, the law became enforceable.

In response to the lawsuit, the state has argued the Supreme Court’s decision wiped Roe out of existence and that its precedent no longer has relevance.

Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who will decide the case, rejected a request that came from the plaintiffs in August to immediately block the law while the suit was pending. He also denied a request from state officials to postpone the trial.