Judge Could Temporarily Block 'Fetal Pain' Law

Dec 20, 2012

A judge is considering whether to temporarily block a new state law that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The law is scheduled to take effect on January 1st.

Gov. Nathan Deal Signs Fetal Pain Bill in May
Credit Rose Scott/WABE

During a hearing, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Doris Downs said she will decide by the end of next week whether to temporarily put the law on hold while the case is being litigated. The challenge was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three obstetricians. ACLU attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas argued the judge should block the law because otherwise Georgia women will suffer irreparable harm.

“Many of them seek abortions because they’re in the process of miscarrying, there are a number of health conditions that are caused by pregnancy or made by worse by pregnancy, and some have only just received the devastating diagnosis that the fetus is suffering from a severe or potentially lethal anomaly.”

But state attorneys argued preventing the law from moving forward as scheduled will harm the state by going against the will of the Georgia legislature. Attorneys also battled over a portion of existing state law, which gives district attorneys access to medical records.  Attorneys for the state argued the law has been on the books for 40 years and say the ACLU has shown no future or past harm caused by the law. Attorneys for the ACLU say the law is unconstitutional.

Exceptions to the law include:  if the pregnancy is diagnosed as medically futile, needed to avert the death of the pregnant woman and to preserve the life of an unborn child.