ACLU asks judge to block Georgia's abortion law

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The ACLU of Georgia has filed a motion asking a federal judge to block Georgia's new law that bans abortions six weeks into pregnancy from going into effect next year.

Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights previous filed a lawsuit challenging the state's so-called "heartbeat bill" in June. Now the lawyers are asking the judge to block the bill until the lawsuit is settled. If it's not blocked, the law is set to take effect Jan. 1.

“This legislation is blatantly unconstitutional under nearly 50 years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Politicians should never second guess women’s healthcare decisions,” said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia. “Politicians have no business telling women or a couple when to start or expand a family. Our lawsuit asks the court to block the law from taking effect on January 1, 2020.”

The law bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women know they're pregnant. 

The legislation makes exceptions in the case of rape and incest if the woman files a police report first. It also allows for abortions when the life of the woman is at risk or when a fetus is determined not to be viable because of a serious medical condition.

The lawsuit was filed against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Attorney General Chris Carr, state health officials and six district attorneys whose jurisdictions include the areas where the abortion providers who brought the suit practice.

“Georgia is one of 12 states that have passed abortion bans this year in the hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “None of these laws are in effect, and we are fighting to keep it that way."

When Kemp signed the law in May, he acknowledged a court challenge was likely. But he said then that he was undeterred.

"I realize that some may challenge it in the court of law," Kemp said at the time. "We will not back down. We will always continue to fight for life."

Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio have passed similar bills barring abortion once there's a detectable fetal heartbeat. Missouri's governor signed a bill approving an eight-week ban on abortion, with exceptions only for medical emergencies.

A new Alabama law bans virtually all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, and makes performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years or life in prison for the provider.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.