A federal judge has thrown out a Georgia law restricting most abortions after six weeks.
In a ruling issued today, Judge Steve Jones, an Athens native, ruled that the law violates the Fourteenth Amendment and the right to an abortion established by the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade.
The ruling was expected. Jones had earlier issued an injunction preventing the law from being enforced, and most legal scholars predicted it would be struck down.
House Bill 481, popularly known as the “Heartbeat Bill,” passed the state legislature and was signed by Gov. Brian Kemp last year. The American Civil Liberties Union then challenged it in court.
HB 481 was one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, essentially banning abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, which was when supporters claimed a fetal heartbeat could be detected (though doctors disputed that). The bill also declared fetuses to be Georgia citizens.
Jones, a Cedar Shoals High School and UGA graduate, is a former Athens-Clarke County Municipal Court and Western Circuit Superior Court judge. President Barack Obama named him to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta in 2010, and he was confirmed unanimously by the Senate.
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