ATLANTA – Abortion-rights advocates in the General Assembly have opened up a new front.
Fifty-eight Georgia lawmakers signed onto a “friend of the court” – or amicus – brief filed on Monday in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court involving an abortion law in Mississippi. That was the most signatories from one state among the nearly 900 lawmakers who signed the brief.
The case, scheduled to be heard by the high court on Dec. 1, bans abortions after 15 weeks in Mississippi, nine weeks fewer than the 24-week precedent established by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
The amicus brief was organized by the State Innovation Exchange’s Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council, which describes itself as a “network of state legislators working to advance reproductive health, rights and justice.”
The brief argues the Supreme Court’s failure to uphold the rule of law and precedent would result in disastrous consequences for women seeking abortions, as well as for their families.
“State legislators are the first line of defense against policies that deliberately roll back progress on abortion rights and reproductive health across the country, and the overwhelming majority of the public agrees we must protect Roe v. Wade,” said the organization’s Jennifer Driver. “With this amicus brief, nearly 900 legislators are sending the Supreme Court a clear message: We cannot go back. You must uphold 50 years of legal abortion in all 50 states.”
The amicus brief in the Mississippi case comes on the heels of passage of a stricter abortion law in Texas that bans the procedure after fetal cardiac activity is detected, typically about six weeks.
“Texas is showing us what a world without Roe v. Wade looks like — one where wealthier people can travel to get reproductive care while poorer people are stripped of their rights,” said Georgia Rep. Kim Schofield, D-Atlanta. “We can’t let that happen.”
Last week, Georgia Democrats specifically expressed their concern that a Texas-style abortion bill could soon be introduced in the Peach State.
On Friday, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is set for a hearing on Georgia’s abortion law, which has been tied up in court since it was passed by the Republican-led General Assembly two years ago.
Georgia’s abortion bill – House Bill 481 – known as the Living Infants Fairness Equality Act – also seeks to prevent abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, except in special situations. A U.S. District Court judge ruled it unconstitutional last year following lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.