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An Assault on Women's Rights - Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Ban

In a Devastating Decision, the Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Georgia’s Six-Week Abortion Ban

Key Takeaways

  • The Georgia Supreme Court supported the Georgia Living Infants Fairness and Equality (Life) Act in a case called State of Georgia vs. SisterSong.

  • The Life Act, or H.B. 481, stops women from having an abortion after six weeks of being pregnant.

  • The Georgia Supreme Court said that old US Supreme Court decisions, like Roe v. Wade, can’t be used to say the Life Act was wrong from the start.

  • The court explained that Georgia's laws must follow the current rules set by the U.S. Supreme Court when understanding the U.S. Constitution.

Upholding Abortion Bans in Georgia

On Tuesday, October 24, 2023, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled to uphold Georgia’s Living Infants Fairness and Equality (Life) Act in the matter of the State of Georgia vs. SisterSong.

The Life Act, known as H.B. 481, bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded that the trial court cannot rely on since-overruled United States Supreme Court decisions, such as Roe v. Wade, when determining that the Life Act was “null from the beginning.” The Court reasoned that Georgia courts are bound to apply ‘now-controlling’ U.S. Supreme Court precedent when interpreting the United States Constitution.

Timeline of Key Events

July 20, 2022

After the U.S. Supreme Court takes away the right to abortion, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals lifts the federal district court’s injunction against H.B. 481, Georgia’s six-week abortion ban. The ban goes into effect for the first time since it was passed in 2019.

July 26, 2022

August 15, 2022

October 24, 2022

November 15, 2022

November 23, 2022

March 28, 2023

October 24, 2023

SisterLove believes that the Georgia Supreme Court utterly disregarded long-standing precedent demonstrating that if a state or federal law violates the Constitution at the time it is enacted, it is void from the start under the Georgia Constitution.

Arguing Against Women's Rights

Georgia’s ban was passed in 2019, when Roe was the controlling law. As such, in SisterSong v. State of Georgia, plaintiffs argued that Georgia’s six-week ban was void ab initio— that is, “[n]ull from the beginning.” Ruling in favor of the plaintiff’s would require that a new abortion ban be introduced, and make its way through the legislative process.

However, the Georgia Supreme Court has chosen to reverse the trial court’s ruling, in favor of the plaintiffs, and allow the ‘trigger’ six-week ban to stay in effect.

The Court’s devastating decision means that Georgians who are already suffering from a lack of adequate reproductive care, will continue to have to travel across state lines at a great expense.

Health Impacts of Georgia Abortion Ban

Georgians will be forced to carry a pregnancy to term while experiencing health risks, and life-altering consequences of pregnancy and childbirth against their will.

The decision will have detrimental effects on women across the state, who are already suffering from state-wide OB/GYN deserts, and an overload of crisis pregnancy centers that notoriously manipulate women into continuing a pregnancy. Georgia has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the country, and Black women in Georgia are dying from maternal mortality at higher rates than any other race or ethnicity. The Georgia Supreme Court’s decision will have detrimental effects on Black women across that state.

Now, more than ever, a call to action for adequate reproductive health care is not imminent, but necessary.

Taking a Stand

SisterLove believes in a world where women have the authority to make the most informed decisions relating to their health irrespective of government intrusion. Sisterlove believes in a world where all women, regardless of economic barriers, have access to adequate reproductive health care.

As such, SisterLove is vehemently opposed to the Life Act.

SisterLove will continue to join in this fight to live in a world where everyone has the right to decide whether or not to have children and raise their children in safe, sustainable communities; only then can reproductive justice truly be realized.

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