SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A number of groups that oppose Georgia’s new “heartbeat” bill and who are suing in federal court had their first day in court Monday as they asked for a delay in implementing the law which is set to take effect January 1, 2020. ”Staci Fox, Planned Parenthood Southeast,
“Let me be clear, there is no state interest that is strong enough to ban abortions in Georgia,” said Staci Fox, Planned Parenthood Southeast.
Fox and other lawsuit plaintiffs made comments at a news conference in Atlanta following the hearing in federal court.
“This is about access, it’s about stopping an abortion ban that’s unconstitutional,” said Monica Simpson who is the executive director of Sister Song which is one of the plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs argue that House Bill 481 which would essentially ban abortions at six weeks (when a fetal heartbeat is usually detected) violates the federal Roe versus Wade decision which made abortion legal throughout the United States.
The plaintiffs say they represent doctors, healthcare providers and patients who oppose the law which would ban an abortion from the earliest weeks of pregnancy, often before most women realize they are pregnant.
“What we are clear about is that Georgians did not ask for this,” said Simpson. “What Georgians asked for is expanded access, what Georgians asked for is to be in a state where their bodes and decisions are not controlled by the State.”
Fox said the Georgia law would be one of the most restrictive in the country and that precedent has been that federal courts won’t uphold a ban.
However, in arguing its case, the state of Georgia said House Bill 481 is about “protecting life” and that “once a heartbeat is detected – 95 to 98 percent of unborn children will survive until birth absent an attempt to terminate their lives.”
The state also argued that plaintiffs have no proof they will prevail in the legal action and as such, that the bill should be allowed to become law on January 1, 2020.
But Fox argued that this is just the beginning of the court process. “To Governor Kemp, we promised we would see you in court and we did that this morning,” she said. “To the lawmakers who voted for this ban, we promised to hold you accountable and we are doing that right now.”