ACLU of Georgia

Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade could have direct impact on Georgia heartbeat law

Sophia Choi | WSB-TV | May 4, 2022

Click the image to watch the video interview on wsbtv.com

ATLANTA — The leaked Supreme Court opinion is giving new hope for state Republicans backing Georgia’s heartbeat law.

 

But Democrats say the timing could backfire on them.

 

Some state lawmakers say it could take until November before we get a final decision on Georgia’s heartbeat law, which has been put on hold until the Supreme Court makes a ruling on Mississippi’s law.

 

Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan told Channel 2 investigative reporter Sophia Choi that the leaked Supreme Court opinion will likely go through many changes before justices release a final decision—possibly in June. That could prove instrumental for Georgia’s heartbeat bill.

“This decision is bad for women, period,” Jordan said.

 

Jordan fought against the bill, even taking to the well in the state legislature to speak out.

 

She believes the Supreme Court will overturn the nation’s landmark abortion law, opening the door for the heartbeat bill to become Georgia law.

 

“Roe v. Wade will be overturned and that it is for the states to make a determination,” Jordan said.

 

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the heartbeat bill into law in 2019.

 

A lower court deemed it unconstitutional, siding with the ACLU and other pro-choice groups.

 

The state then appealed to the 11th Circuit Court, which decided to wait until the Supreme Court ruled on a similar Mississippi law and Roe v. Wade.

 

“This leaked draft does not represent the Supreme Court’s final decision. Supreme Court justices have switched votes, have changed languages in the final hours before a decision has been issued,” said Sean Young, legal director for the Georgia chapter of the ACLU.

But for many, they see the heartbeat bill as a roadmap.

 

“It looks like we’ll ultimately prevail as they’re going to be sending it back to the states,” said state Sen. Bruce Thompson.

Thompson sponsored the heartbeat bill in the state Senate. If allowed to take effect, the law would prohibit abortions the second a fetus’ heartbeat is heard.

 

State Rep. Ed Setzler sponsored the bill in the House.

 

“I’m hopeful that this draft that’s come out is finalized and we can finally begin to work toward justice for these helpless small children,” Setzler said.

 

Jordan said once the Supreme Court issues a final opinion, the 11th Circuit will then weigh in, possibly directing the district court to reassess in light of the high court’s decision.

 

“None of this stuff happens quickly, so you’re talking about a timeline that actually may culminate in November,” Jordan said.

Other lawmakers told Choi they think it’ll all happen much quicker than that.

 

The ACLU said it’s waiting on a final decision before coming up with next steps. But the group does remind people that right now abortions are still legal in Georgia, with the heartbeat law on hold.