Critics of Georgia’s ‘heartbeat bill’ celebrate ruling to strike it down

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Critics of Georgia’s so-called ‘heartbeat bill’ are celebrating a federal judge’s ruling to strike it down. The law — signed by Governor Brian Kemp in May of 2019 — would have banned most abortions after six weeks, which is before many women know they are pregnant.

The ruling — filed by Federal Judge Steven Jones — calls portions of House Bill 481 unconstitutional and says it violates the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

In October, a lawsuit filed in part by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood prompted a federal judge to temporarily stop the law from going into effect. It was supposed to happen in January 2020.

Monday’s ruling orders that “Defendants, and all their respective officers, successors in office, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and persons acting in concert or participation with them, are permanently enjoined from enforcing” the bill.

“What this means is that nothing changes. Those who want to access to abortion in Georgia still can,” said Planned Parenthood Southeast CEO and President Staci Fox.

Fox says the organization will fight back if Gov. Kemp follows through with an appeal. He indicated he would file one in a tweet on Monday.

District 1 Representative Buddy Carter (R-GA) says he supports the governor’s decision to continue the fight to put the ‘heartbeat bill’ into effect.

“I applaud the governor’s decision to appeal this decision and look forward to hearing it heard in the Supreme Court,” said Rep. Carter.

“We’ll see you in court and we’ll see you at the ballot box in two years,” said Fox. “This is not what Georgians want.”

The founder of Savannah Film Alliance says it is not what the film industry wants either. At first, Charles Bowen says shocked production companies threatened to leave Georgia. He says three did, but larger ones waited until Monday’s ruling.

“I think you would have probably seen the end of the entertainment industry in Georgia, certainly the end as we know it,” said Bowen.

Bowen predicts at least 90 percent of production companies would have pulled out of the state if the heartbeat bill went into effect.

“The people who live here, the tens of thousands of people that make their living from this industry — they very well would have had to move on somewhere else,” he explained.

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