This week, Georgia’s abortion laws unexpectedly altered, forcing some patients who were waiting for the procedure—which had been permitted just hours earlier—to be turned away.
The process of sending four patients home was horrific, according to Melissa Grant, chief executive officer of Carafem, a Washington-based organization that runs a reproductive health clinic in Atlanta.
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Grant told The Associated Press news agency, “It was terrible every time the staff had to bring it up, whether it was someone on the phone for tomorrow or someone in the office today.”
In order to attempt to be sympathetic and understanding in the presence of someone who was either going to come apart, weep, get furious, or try to negotiate — “Isn’t there any way you can still see me?” — they would have to reseal themselves.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Georgia legislation prohibiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected—usually at approximately six weeks—went into effect after a federal appeals court earlier that day dismissed an objection by abortion doctors.
For a three-judge panel that was unanimous, Chief Judge William Pryor of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta noted that the state had a “rational foundation” for the statute given its interest in “giving full legal recognition to an unborn child.”
The Georgia verdict would typically not go into force for many weeks, but on Wednesday the court granted a second order enabling the legislation to go into effect right away.
The legislation was approved in Georgia in 2019 and includes a “unborn child” when defining “person.” The US Supreme Court’s 1973 historic Roe v Wade decision guaranteed the right to an abortion, and a federal court halted it that October before it could go into force by holding that it violated that right.
The Supreme Court, however, overruled that ground-breaking judgment on June 24, making Wednesday’s decision possible. Medical crises, as well as rape or incest instances where a police record was made, are exempt from the statute.
According to Alexis, “Planned Parenthood and its partners will do everything within our power to fight back to ensure that all individuals can get the health care they need, regardless of where they reside. This is a major human rights violation.”
As conservative states press for limitations and the federal government and liberal states explore for methods to protect access to abortion, legal battles are taking place throughout the US to determine the post-Roe landscape of the nation.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Roe decision, at least 26 US states are anticipated to attempt to outlaw abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights organization.
Abortion restrictions, according to rights activists, would disproportionately hurt Black and low-income Americans.
In the meanwhile, a court in Louisiana on Thursday prohibited the state from implementing “trigger” legislation intended to outlaw abortions after the US Supreme Court’s Roe decision. One of the defendants in the complaint, Planned Parenthood’s president, McGill Johnson, stated in a statement.
One of Louisiana’s three abortion clinics, Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, filed a lawsuit to reopen, claiming the trigger laws were unclear, contradictory, and a violation of its state constitutional due process rights.
The restrictions were temporarily put into effect on June 27 by a court in New Orleans, but they were reinstated on July 8 when the case was relocated to Baton Rouge by another judge.
The laws were then temporarily suspended on July 12 while Judge Donald Johnson deliberated whether to grant the preliminary injunction that was issued on Thursday. This injunction is still in place until the clinic’s request for a permanent order can be tried in court.
Joanna Wright, the clinic’s attorney, said in a statement that “today’s verdict is essential in ensuring that women in Louisiana continue to have access to comprehensive – and sometimes life-saving – healthcare treatments.”
Clinics in Baton Rouge and New Orleans that had shut down while awaiting the decision announced that they had reopened on Thursday.
However, Grant said that since the ban went into force on Wednesday, Carafem has canceled more than 75 appointments for women who are more than six weeks pregnant in Georgia, one of the states with the strictest restrictions on abortion.
Prior to Wednesday, the National Abortion Federation identified 10 facilities in the state offering surgical abortions; however, one additional facility in Savannah had already shuttered when the Supreme Court took action.