ACLU of Georgia

Press Advisory: Georgia Court to Hold Two-Day Trial in Challenge to Six-Week Abortion Ban Starting Today

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 24, 2022

CONTACTS:
ACLU: media@aclu.org
ACLU of Georgia: media@acluga.org
CRR: center.press@reprorights.org
PPFA: media.office@ppfa.org
PPSE: Press@ppse.org
SisterSong: sistersong@berlinrosen.com

Abortion providers, advocates, and attorneys will answer questions at the courthouse immediately after each day of the trial. Register here for information & a recording.

WHAT:
The Superior Court of Fulton County will hear oral arguments and hold a two-day trial beginning today featuring live testimony from experts and fact witnesses — including Georgia physicians and medical professionals — on the harms of HB 481, a ban on abortion at approximately six weeks of pregnancy. The proceedings were scheduled in response to a lawsuit filed by Georgia abortion providers and advocates challenging the six-week ban, which, since taking effect in July, has pushed essential care out of reach before many people even know they’re pregnant.

Shortly after court proceedings today, providers and advocates challenging the ban will hold a press conference to answer questions outside the courthouse. Media availability will also be held after court proceedings end on Tuesday. Recordings of the press events will be available soon afterward.

Ahead of the trial, providers and advocates in the case issued the following statement:

“For months, countless Georgians have been denied access to the abortion care they need and subjected to the severe, life-altering effects of forced pregnancy and childbirth. Gov. Brian Kemp’s ban also prevents physicians from giving appropriate treatment when a patient encounters serious, life-threatening pregnancy complications. The impacts have been devastating, especially for Black women in Georgia, who are over two times more likely than white women to die of pregnancy-related causes and face structural racism in our health care system. Georgia’s state constitution clearly prohibits this extreme political interference with people’s bodies, health, and lives. We are asking the court to act quickly to put an end to this crisis, protect bodily autonomy, and restore Georgians’ ability to access this essential health care.”

WHEN:
Monday, October 24 and Tuesday, October 25; each day, court proceedings will begin at 9 a.m. ET and a media availability will be held shortly after proceedings end, likely sometime between 5:30 and 7:00 p.m. ET, on the Central Avenue side of the courthouse

WHERE:
Judge Robert C.I. McBurney will preside over proceedings in courtroom J1-8D of the Lewis R. Slaton Courthouse, 136 Pryor Street, Atlanta, GA 30303. The courtroom will be open to the public and the hearing may be livestreamed on Judge McBurney’s YouTube channel here.

WHO:
Witnesses to provide testimony in support of the abortion providers and advocates’ challenge are: Dr. Carrie Cwiak (plaintiff and expert in obstetrics & gynecology); Dr. Whitney Rice (expert in public health); Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody (expert in reproductive psychiatry); Ms. Gloria Nesmith (ultrasound technician and abortion storyteller); and Dr. Martina Badell (expert in maternal fetal medicine).

After each day of the trial, Georgia providers and advocates will take questions on the Central Avenue courthouse steps. For more information on the press conferences and recordings of them, please register here: https://forms.gle/bdUBKERSH3VwfNkr6.

DETAILS:
The state court challenge — filed on July 26, just days after a federal appeals court allowed Georgia’s six-week ban to take effect for the first time since it was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019 — asserts that (1) the Georgia Constitution’s especially strong protection for the fundamental right to privacy prohibits political interference with an individual’s deeply personal and medically consequential decision whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy; and (2) Georgia’s six-week ban was void from the start under the Georgia Constitution because it clearly violated federal constitutional precedent when enacted in 2019. Doctors and advocates are asking the state court to permanently block the law.

The lawsuit also includes a state constitutional challenge to a provision of Georgia law, expanded by HB 481, which further violates Georgians’ privacy rights by giving prosecutors unfettered access to abortion patients’ private medical records without due process. 

This case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Georgia, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Georgia-based law firms Caplan Cobb and Bondurant Mixson & Elmore on behalf of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Feminist Women’s Health Center, Planned Parenthood Southeast, Inc., Atlanta Comprehensive Wellness Clinic, Atlanta Women’s Medical Center, FemHealth USA d/b/a carafem, Summit Medical Associates, P.C., Carrie Cwiak, M.D., M.P.H., Lisa Haddad, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., Eva Lathrop, M.D., M.P.H., and Medical Students for Choice.

An overview of the case can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/sistersong-v-state-georgia

A copy of the lawsuit complaint can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/sistersong-v-georgia-complaint

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