Federal judges in Georgia and Tennessee on Monday blocked two of the countrys strictest laws on abortion.
In Georgia, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled against the state in a lawsuit filed by an advocacy group and abortion providers. His ruling permanently enjoins the state from ever enforcing House Bill 481, also known as the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act.
The LIFE Act banned physicians from performing an abortion once a fetuss “heartbeat” can be detected by ultrasound, typically around the 6-week mark of a pregnancy. Blocking of the “heartbeat” law means women in Georgia can continue to get abortions during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
“It is in the public interest, and is this courts duty, to ensure constitutional rights are protected. Because the constitutional liberty of the woman to have some freedom to terminate her pregnancy is implicated here, the court finds that a permanent injunction of H.B. 481 would not disserve the public interest,” Jones wrote in the order.
In Tennessee, U.S. District Judge William Campbell Jr. granted a temporary restraining order regarding a law that Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed hours earlier banning abortions as early as 6 weeks into pregnancy and prohibiting abortions based on race, sex, or diagnosis of Down syndrome.
In his ruling, Campbell wrote that hes “bound by the Supreme Court holdings prohibiting undue burdens on the availability of pre-viability abortions.”
When the bill cleared the Senate in June, Lee applauded its passage, calling it “the strongest pro-life law” in the states history.
“One of the most important things we can do to be pro-family is to protect the rights of the most vulnerable in our state, and there is none more vulnerable than the unborn,” he said in a Twitter announcement of the bill.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Reproductive Rights, and womens health provider Planned Parenthood filed a joint lawsuit in federal court challenging the bill.
“The Tennessee General Assemblys passage of this dangerous, flatly unconstitutional bill is unacceptable,” Hedy Weinberg, executive director of ACLU-Tennessee, said in a statement. “Politicians should not be deciding what is best for women and certainly not making reproductive health care decisions for them.”
The Susan B. Anthony List, one of the United States largest pro-life groups, had previously praised the Tennessee “heartbeat” bill.
“Tennessees landmark new law includes some of the strongest protections in the nation for unborn children and their mothers,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, the groups president, _