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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signing heartbeat abortion ban into law on May 7, 2019.YouTube screenshot

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(LifeSiteNews) – The Georgia heartbeat law that inspired a wave of similar pro-life laws across the nation can finally take effect, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

Signed into law in 2019, the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act forbids abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, except in cases of rape, incest, physical medical emergencies, and pregnancies deemed “medically futile.” It bans abortions in all other cases as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, when a baby’s heartbeat can be detected.

READ: LifeSite launches new interactive map tracking abortion laws in all 50 states

For reaching the vast majority of abortions based on a criteria that was intuitively understandable to the general public, heartbeat laws rapidly became one of the most popular forms of pro-life legislation, and a target of intense left-wing opposition, although they could not take effect as long as Roe v. Wade remained on the books.

The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 last month to overturn Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and the 11th Circuit panel ruled Wednesday that Dobbs “makes clear no right to abortion exists under the Constitution, so Georgia may prohibit them,” the New York Post reports.

“We are overjoyed the court has paved the way for the implementation of Georgia’s life act,” Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp responded, WTMV reports. “As mothers navigate pregnancy, birth, parenthood or alternative options to parenthood like adoptions, Georgia’s public, private and non-profit sectors stand ready to provide the resources they need to stay safe, healthy and informed.”

“It is the constitutional duty of the Georgia Attorney General to defend the laws of our state,” state Attorney General Chris Carr added. “Today, our arguments have prevailed, meaning the 11th circuit has allowed Georgia’s LIFE Act to take effect immediately.”

Roe’s overturn sparked the activation of numerous pre-Roe abortion bans that had gone unenforced for decades, as well as more recent pro-life laws that had been blocked by courts, and trigger laws designed not to take effect until Roe was reversed. Across the country, abortion giant Planned Parenthood has suspended abortions and/or closed locations in reaction to the ruling, and pro-life attorneys general have declared their intentions to enforce their states’ duly-enacted abortion prohibitions. 

RELATED: Here’s where abortion is banned or protected in post-Roe America, with new interactive map

But leftists prosecutors in dozens of localities have vowed not to enforce such laws, ensuring that work and debate will continue over the prospect of banning abortion nationally. Pro-abortion activists’ emphasis on supporting interstate travel for abortion also presents a challenge to pro-life policymakers, though groups such as the Thomas More Society and National Association of Christian Lawmakers are currently exploring potential solutions. President Joe Biden has called for electing more Democrats to Congress to support codifying a “right” to abortion-on-demand in federal law. 

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