ACLU of Georgia

The Present: Sistersong v. Kemp

Sistersong v. Kemp:

ACLU Lawsuit Against Georgia's Abortion Ban

On June 28, 2019, the ACLU, Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood filed SisterSong v. Kemp, a federal lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs, including doctors, health care providers, and their patients challenging Georgia’s abortion ban. The law bans abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy – before many people even know they are pregnant, and its scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2020. We have filed this lawsuit to stop the ban from becoming law.

“Georgia’s abortion ban is blatantly unconstitutional under nearly 50 years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Politicians should never second guess women’s health care 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.”

SisterSong is asking the courts to strike down Georgia’s abortion ban to ensure that all Georgians can continue to have the freedom to decide for themselves when to start or expand their families and to do so free from governmental interference.  

Georgia’s abortion ban – HB 481 – is blatantly unconstitutional under nearly 50 years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Every federal court that has heard a challenge to such a ban has struck it down. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution has long protected our cherished right to privacy and liberty, and HB 481 threatens these basic American freedoms in violation of the constitution.

SisterSong v Kemp intends to reaffirm the 1973 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision— Roe v. WadeSisterSong v. Kemp reaffirms women’s freedom to make their own healthcare decisions based on their own faith, family, and the advice of their doctors. 

If Georgia’s abortion ban legislation were to go into effect, the impact on the healthcare of women throughout the state would be devastating, because it:


  • forces women to continue their pregnancies against their will, exposing many to serious health risks – such as heart attacks, stroke, or kidney damage –that they will be powerless to address, 

  • threatens OB/GYNs and other healthcare professionals with criminal penalties for providing standard-of-care treatments if a treatment poses any risk to an embryo, and 

  • interferes with standard-of-care treatment which will drive doctors out of Georgia which will create a devastating impact on women’s access to healthcare especially for low-income, rural, women of color – all of whom are already least able to access medical care. 

The Organizations

The organizations bringing forward this lawsuit represent a wide-range of health providers, including SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice CollectiveFeminist Women’s Health CenterPlanned Parenthood Southeast, Inc.Atlanta Comprehensive Wellness Clinic, Atlanta Women’s Medical Center, FemHealth USA d/b/a carafemColumbus Women’s Health Organization, P.C.Summit Medical Associates, P.C., Carrie Cwiak, M.D., M.P.H., Lisa Haddad, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., and Eva Lathrop, M.D., M.P.H.

The Defendants

The defendants in the case are Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Attorney General Christopher M. Carr, Commissioner for the Department of Public Health Kathleen Toomey, the Executive Director and Members of the Georgia Composite Medical Board, and the District Attorneys for the counties where the plaintiffs provide medical care — all sued in their official capacities.

SisterSong v. Kemp was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.

Georgia is one of several states that have passed laws banning abortion in 2019, representing an unprecedented surge of legislation designed to initiate a direct challenge to the 1973 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

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