ATLANTA (LifeSiteNews) – A Georgia judge declared the state’s heartbeat-based abortion ban unconstitutional despite the U.S. Supreme Court expressly affirming states’ freedom to set their own abortion laws this summer.
The Associated Press reported that Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled against the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, which forbids abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected (as early as six weeks), except in cases of rape, incest, physical medical emergencies, and pregnancies deemed “medically futile.”
The bill, signed in 2019, inspired a wave of heartbeat laws across the country, which were allowed to finally take effect after the nation’s highest court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, declaring it time to “heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
Yet McBurney claimed the LIFE Act, which a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed to take effect in July, was illegitimate because Roe had been in effect at the time it was enacted.
“[E]verywhere in America, including Georgia, it was unequivocally unconstitutional for governments — federal, state, or local — to ban abortions before viability,” he wrote, claiming that Georgia could legitimately pass the same law now that Roe is gone, but not until the legislature “determines in the sharp glare of public attention that will undoubtedly and properly attend such an important and consequential debate whether the rights of unborn children justify such a restriction on women’s right to bodily autonomy and privacy.”
Kara Richardson, a spokeswoman for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, told the AP that Carr’s office will seek an “immediate appeal.”
Roe’s overturn sparked a seismic shift in the status quo of abortion, finally allowing direct abortion bans to take effect for the first time in half a century, as well as intense anger from pro-abortion politicians and activists desperate to insulate abortion-on-demand from duly-enacted laws.
Despite the straightforward nature of the Supreme Court’s ruling, some judges have asserted new rationales to block pro-life laws, from a Kentucky judge falsely claiming that recognizing life begins at conception is a “distinctly Christian and Catholic belief” the state may not enforce, to a Minnesota judge claiming that modest abortion regulations “insult” the “intelligence and decision-making capabilities” of abortion-seeking women.
Such rulings underscore the challenge pro-lifers continue to face from activist judges, which depending on varying state laws can be addressed by regular elections, recall elections, impeachment, or state constitutional amendments. Georgia’s McBurney was elected to his current term, which ends December 31, in a race where he ran unopposed.