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Judge halts protections for babies in Georgia

by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 10/02/19, 10:55 am

Georgia’s “heartbeat law” is on hold, for now. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones on Tuesday temporarily blocked the state’s protections for unborn infants with a “detectable human heartbeat.” Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed the law in May, and it was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Current state laws, which protect most unborn infants after 20 weeks of gestation, will remain in effect while a lawsuit against the new law filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights goes forward.

What is the outlook for the law? Jones wrote that, based on U.S. Supreme Court precedent, courts will likely overturn it. The law declares an unborn baby with detectable cardiac activity a “natural person” with “the full value of a child,” a definition that, according to Jones, the Supreme Court has rejected. Cardiac activity can begin as early as six weeks of gestation, and the judge noted that the Supreme Court has overturned similar laws protecting infants before they can survive outside the womb.

Dig deeper: Read my April report in Vitals about the wave of heartbeat laws.

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Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. She is a Patrick Henry College and World Journalism Institute graduate. Rachel resides with her husband in Wheaton, Ill.

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