Georgia’s hotly controversial “heartbeat” abortion-restricting law was declared unconstitutional by a federal court July 13. Gov. Brian Kemp says the state will appeal.

Signed into law by Kemp in early 2019, the law criminalized abortions in cases where a beat can be detected in fetal tissue that can develop into a heart and granted some individual legal rights to the fetus, among other provisions. Current Georgia law restrictions to abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy; the new law attempted to restrict it to six weeks or earlier, which opponents said is an effective ban.

The law was widely criticized by major businesses and business organizations, including local representatives of the movie industry, as possibly damaging the state’s economy due to political fallout. Many local legislators also opposed it as unconstitutional.

The case was called SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective v. Kemp. In the ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Steve C. Jones declared key provisions of the law unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction against its enforcement, declaring that current abortion laws remain in effect.

“This win is tremendous, and it also makes a very bold statement,” said Monica Simpson, executive director of Atlanta-based SisterSong, in a written statement. “No one should have to live in a world where their bodies and reproductive decision making is controlled by the state. And we will continue to work to make sure that is never a reality in Georgia or anywhere else.”

“We will appeal the court’s decision,” said Kemp in a Twitter post. “Georgia values life, and we will keep fighting for the rights of the unborn.”

The lawsuit was filed by SisterSong and a number of clinics and doctors with the support of the ACLU, the ACLU of Georgia, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The ACLU of Georgia posted the entire order online here.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.