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Pro-abortion groups sue to block Georgia heartbeat law from taking effect

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ATLANTA, Georgia, July 16, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A trio of pro-abortion organizations filed a motion in federal court Wednesday seeking to block enforcement of Georgia’s hotly debated ban on aborting most babies with detectable heartbeats.

Signed into law in May, 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.” If allowed to take effect, it will ban abortions in all other cases as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, starting in January 2020.

A direct challenge to Roe v. Wade’s prohibition against pre-“viability” abortion bans, the law has been a subject of intense national debate. Some prosecutors in the state have said they’ll refuse to enforce it, and various celebrities and entertainment companies have threatened to cut off filming in the Peach State.

The most consequential resistance, however, is in the legal arena. The so-called American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), and Planned Parenthood have challenged the law’s constitutionality, and on Tuesday requested a preliminary injunction to keep the law from being implemented before the merits are decided in court, Georgia Public Radio reports.

“By depriving women of the most basic control over their bodies, their health, and their lives, H.B. 481 imposes on Plaintiffs’ patients and members a single and unbending vision of their reproductive trajectories, forcing them to define their lives according to the State’s prerogatives, rather than their own,” the motion argues. “Absent an order from this Court, it will inflict significant and irreparable harm.”

It declares the law’s personhood language “an attempt to make an end-run around 50 years of binding precedent,” and claims “that the Fourteenth Amendment speaks only of persons ‘born or naturalized in the United States.’” In fact, the amendment's “born or naturalized” language refers only to citizenship, and the following sentences refers to “persons” in addition to “citizens.”

The LIFE Act’s lead sponsor, Republican state Rep. Ed Setzler, appeared on WABE Tuesday to discuss the law, during which he responded to the motion by noting that Roe itself acknowledges, “if this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment. The appellant conceded as much on reargument.”

“We’re the first state in the nation that ever established the personhood of the child, consistent with the 14th Amendment, to answer the Roe v. Wade decision,” Setzler said. “No other state’s answered it. They might have opposed it, but we have answered it definitively, reading from the text […] we establish the personhood of the unborn child, we give them status under our tax code, we give pregnant mothers access to recovery of child support, across Georgia code we’ve established the personhood in addition to the abortion restriction.”

LifeSiteNews has reached out to Rep. Setzler’s office for further comment, and will update this piece once it responds.

Pro-lifers across the country hope that the current wave of state heartbeat laws will force a Supreme Court review of Roe, and that at least five of the current justices vote to overturn it and finally free states to directly set their own abortion policies.

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