Breaking News: Georgia Court Overturns State Abortion Law | Akerman LLP – Health Law Rx

On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark decision on abortion. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationtip over Roe v. calf and the right to terminate a pregnancy before viability that roe apparently codified. The Supreme Court decision fundamentally changed the constitutional landscape of a woman’s right to make reproductive health decisions and created ambiguity about the scope and breadth of the right to privacy in the United States.

That Dobbs Not surprisingly, this decision had seismic implications “on site”. before Dobbsthirteen states had enacted “trigger laws” effective after the enactment of the Dobbs Decision immediately sprung restrictions on abortion. Under roe, these restrictions would undoubtedly have been unconstitutional. Although not triggered immediately afterwards Dobbs Due to pending court cases at the time, Georgia’s abortion law known as the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (“LIFE”) Act was passed in 2019 and came into force in July 2022. This law banned abortions after cardiac activity was detected in the embryo (usually when pregnancy nears six weeks) and was widely regarded as one of the most restrictive anti-choice laws in existence in the United States.

On Tuesday, November 15, 2022, the Superior Court of Fulton County (J. McBurney, Chairman) found that the LIFE Act violates the Georgia Constitution. in the Sistersong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective v. State of Georgia (“Sistersong”)The plaintiffs were made up of a coalition of Georgia-based obstetricians and gynecologists (and their members), reproductive health centers and membership groups who describe themselves as committed to reproductive freedom and justice. Plaintiffs argued that the LIFE Act was void from the beginningor had no legal effect from the outset because the LIFE Act was enacted when roe excluded restrictions on access to abortion like those imposed by the LIFE Act. The plaintiffs alleged that the LIFE Act therefore violated Georgia’s constitutional right to liberty, privacy and/or equal protection.

Ultimately, the Superior Court found that two sections of the LIFE Act were invalid. The first provision (OCGA § 16-12-141(b)) prohibited any abortion after a fetus had a detectable heartbeat. The second provision (OCGA § 31-9B-3(a)) required the physician to report failed procedures to the Department of Health with a clear reference to the applicable statutory exception (eg, medical emergency, etc.) to the near ban on abortion. The Supreme Court Justice ruled that this explains the Georgia Constitution Empty any law enacted by the Georgia legislature that would, at the time of its enactment, violate the United States Constitution. When the Georgia General Assembly passed the LIFE Act in 2019, among other things, it was unconstitutional for governments to ban abortions before they are feasible or for local governments to impose the type of reporting requirements set out in the LIFE Act. Therefore, according to the Superior Court, the LIFE Act “did not become Georgia law when it was enacted, and it is not Georgia law now.” Procedurally, the State of Georgia has appealed the Superior Court’s decision. This appeal is still pending.

Regardless of whether the Georgia Supreme Court reinstates the LIFE Act or whether the Georgia Legislature enacts similar legislationDobbs, the legal strategies employed by the plaintiffs in this particular case may extend well beyond state lines. Although this decision was made under Georgian law, the argument was supported sister song and credited by the Superior Court, is inherently founded on the principles of common law. The Superior Court relied on an 1886 decision of the United States Supreme Court, which stated in the relevant part: “[a]An unconstitutional act is not a law… it is… as ineffective as if it had never been enacted.” Norton vs. Shelby County, 118 US 425, 442 (1886). Unless the Supreme Court reconsiders this hundred-year-old decision, its logic can be used in the United States to challenge trigger laws and enshrine the theories put forward therein sister song as valuable and reproducible tools used by other litigants (and other courts) in states other than post-Dobbs Legal landscape is further defined.


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