Sistersong v. Kemp

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Georgia, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit today challenging a new Georgia law banning abortion care as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. This law would practically eliminate abortion care in the state and impose an unconstitutional ban on abortion.

The federal lawsuit, brought on behalf of reproductive justice advocates, health care providers, and their patients, seeks immediate relief to prevent enforcement of Georgia’s abortion ban before the January 1, 2020 effective date. The Georgia Legislature passed House Bill 481 (H.B. 481) on March 29, 2019, and the governor signed the bill into law on May 7, 2019.

In their lawsuit, plaintiffs argue that HB 481 bans practically all abortions in the state and disproportionately affects people of color, people struggling financially, and rural Georgians, who are least able to access medical care. Georgians face some of the highest rates of maternal and infant deaths in the nation, especially among Black Georgians.

Georgia is one of several states that have passed laws banning abortion this year, representing an unprecedented surge of legislation designed to initiate a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade

Alabama passed a near total ban; Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Ohio, and Georgia passed six-week bans; Missouri passed an eight-week ban; and Utah and Arkansas passed 18-week bans. None of these bans have gone into effect. Some have been temporarily blocked by a court and others are being challenged before their effective dates. Abortion care is still legal in all 50 states.

 

In 2019 alone, the ACLU challenged similar abortion bans in Kentucky and Ohio, a near total ban in Alabama, and an 18-week ban in Arkansas, among other litigation. 

Plaintiffs are SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and a wide-range of health care providers: Feminist Women’s Health Center, Planned Parenthood Southeast, Inc., Atlanta Comprehensive Wellness Clinic, Atlanta Women’s Medical Center, FemHealth USA d/b/a carafem, Columbus 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.

Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief to hold Georgia’s abortion ban unconstitutional and unenforceable.


UPDATE (October 2019):
The U.S. District Court in Atlanta blocked the abortion ban, which was scheduled to take effect January 1, 2020. The court’s ruling blocks the law’s implementation as litigation proceeds.

UPDATE (September 2021): The State of Georgia appealed the lower court ruling. On Friday, September 24, 2021, the ACLU of Georgia and its legal partners return to federal court for oral arguments to keep Georgia’s abortion ban blocked. 

UPDATE(September 29,2021):The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay in the Georgia abortion ban case, SisterSong v Kemp

“The court’s stay means that Georgia’s abortion ban remains blocked until further notice from the court. Meanwhile, women will continue to be able to make their own healthcare decisions as U.S. Supreme Court precedent requires,” said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia.

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CASE DETAILS

Status

ON APPEAL

Date filed
June 28, 2019

 

Plaintiffs

  • 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

  • Columbus Women’s Health Organization, P.C. Summit Medical Associates, P.C.

Counsel

  • American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Inc.

  • American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Georgia, Inc.

  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America

  • Center For Reproductive Rights

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