The legislature passed the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act in 2019, which bars abortion if a heartbeat is detected, except in cases of rape or incest, the life or physical health of the pregnant woman is at risk, or if the baby wouldn’t survive birth.
Abortion advocates sued, claiming the restrictions were prohibited under the state constitution’s “due-process, equal protection, and inherent-rights provisions” and Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which were still the “law of the land” in 2019, and, therefore, the LIFE Act was void when it became law.
A lower court agreed and blocked the law as unconstitutional in 2022.
The Georgia Supreme Court this week ruled that the lower court erred and remanded the case back to that court.
Ruling only on the U.S. Constitution issue, the court wrote (PDF) that the “holdings of United States Supreme Court cases interpreting the United States Constitution that have since been overruled cannot establish that a law was unconstitutional when enacted and therefore cannot render a law void ab initio.”
The Supreme Court overturned Roe and Casey in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org. (2022), ruling that the Constitution does not confer a right to kill unborn babies.
The Georgia Supreme Court contended that Dobbs is the controlling case, not Roe, in determining whether the LIFE Act was void when enacted in 2019.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America applauded the ruling.
“Twenty-five states – half the country – have pro-life protections in their law in the new Dobbs era, said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the organization. “The majority of these states protect unborn children at least when their heartbeat can be detected, a point when science shows they have more than a 90% chance of surviving to birth.”
Photo credit: American Life League (Creative Commons) – Some rights reserved