Health

SCOTUS Abortion Decision Makes Way For Federal Judge’s Ruling On Georgia Law

In April 2019, women held signs to protest the Georgia "heartbeat bill" at the state Capitol in Atlanta. The U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law that will make way for a Georgia federal judge to issue a ruling on local abortion rights.
In April 2019, women held signs to protest the Georgia "heartbeat bill" at the state Capitol in Atlanta. The U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law that will make way for a Georgia federal judge to issue a ruling on local abortion rights.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press

Updated Monday at 4:37 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law that made way for a federal judge’s ruling on abortion rights in Georgia. 

In question was whether doctors at Louisiana abortion clinics would need to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The law is similar to one in Texas that the court struck down in 2016. SCOTUS had upheld the precedent and found that requirements for admitting privileges significantly limited a woman’s access to abortion. The White House issued a statement criticizing what it called an “unfortunate ruling.”

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled against the state in a lawsuit filed by abortion providers and an advocacy group in Georgia, permanently blocking the 2019 “heartbeat” abortion law.

Jones had said he wanted to wait to rule on Georgia’s House Bill 481 until SCOTUS decided the Louisiana case. Jones started hearing arguments over Georgia’s abortion law via Zoom, which banned most abortions once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity. That can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy before many women know they are pregnant.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and other reproductive rights organizations sued the state last year, challenging it. The plaintiffs in the case, Sister Song v. Kemp, are seeking a permanent injunction. It was set to take effect on January 1, 2020, before Jones temporarily blocked the law from going into effect in October.

Atlanta abortion clinic worker Yemi Miller-Tonnet is a legal advocate for the local network, the Partnership Against Domestic Violence.

“I’m an abortion care provider in Georgia, and I see clients that come from Louisiana all the time,” Miller-Tonnet said.

“Knowing that those clients and those patients have access that is closer to them, and have information now is really great.”

Miller-Tonnet told “Morning Edition” host Lisa Rayam in an interview before Jones’ ruling that when Georgia’s “heartbeat bill” was featured heavily in the news cycle, many women would come into the clinic confused.

“We would have to let people know that everything they were about to do was 100% legal,” Miller-Tonnet said.

“I think that SCOTUS decision really reaffirms to a lot of marginalized populations that they can walk into a clinic or call a clinic and know they are doing something that’s legal and safe.”

Wula Dawson, a legislative advocate with Atlanta’s Feminist Women’s Health Center, said that the Louisiana case was arguing against medically-based restrictions.

“One of the key components of that case was whether or not these doctors were going to have to do unnecessary steps in order to continue to provide care in the clinics in Louisiana,” Dawson said.

“Even though this case was in our favor, and did not roll back already established protections to abortion, we know that we need to expand our vision so that abortions are affordable and accessible.”

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