A trial will begin on Monday to determine if Georgia’s new law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy is legal under the state’s constitution.
The state attorney general’s office will argue its case for the law against doctors and abortion rights advocacy groups who filed a lawsuit challenging the statute at Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta.
The case is the latest legal battle over the future of abortion rights taking place across individual states in post-Roe America.
After the U.S. Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe, about half of all states moved to restrict or ban abortions.
Georgia’s law, which passed in 2019 under Republican leadership of the governor’s mansion and legislature, went into effect in July after a federal appeals court said it could stand.
The law bans abortions at six weeks — typically around the time a heartbeat is detected. It includes exceptions for rape and incest so long as a police report is filed and allows for an abortion if the mother’s life is endangered or there’s a fetal abnormality.
It also redefines “person” to include an embryo or fetus at any stage of development.
Some medical experts have called the heartbeat term misleading, given an embryo does not have a fully developed heart. The heartbeat is only detected because ultrasounds detect faint electrical activity in embryonic cells.
Several groups are challenging the lawsuit, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
In the lawsuit filed over the summer, the groups said the law clearly violated the right to life without undue interference from the government under the Georgia Constitution.
“There is no State interest that justifies forcing Georgians to suffer the profound risks and life-altering consequences of pregnancy and childbirth from the earliest weeks of pregnancy,” the lawsuit reads.
State officials have argued the statute is legal after the fall of Roe and does not intrude on personal privacy because it affects another human life.
The judge overseeing the trial in the Fulton County courthouse is Robert McBurney.