Federal Court Allows Georgia's Heartbeat Bill to Proceed

DXR, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

On Wednesday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that allows Georgia’s LIFE Act, which bans abortions after medical professionals can detect a fetal heartbeat, to proceed. The law passed in 2019, but an Obama-appointed judge struck it down in 2020, leading the state to appeal.


In September, a three-judge panel put the appeal on hold pending the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. On June 24, the day the Supreme Court issued its ruling on Dobbs, Attorney General Chris Carr petitioned the court to allow the law to go into effect.

The three-judge panel, all Republican appointees, ruled that the state could enforce the LIFE Act immediately.

“We vacate the injunction, reverse the judgment in favor of the abortionists, and remand with instructions to enter judgment in favor of the state officials,” wrote Chief Judge Bill Pryor in the ruling.

Axios, in its abortion advocacy screed — I mean, coverage of the ruling — noted that “The bill contains exceptions if a doctor deems a pregnancy ‘medically futile’ and for victims of rape and incest after they’ve filed police reports and only for fetuses younger than 20 weeks old.”

“Today, our arguments have prevailed, meaning the Eleventh Circuit has allowed Georgia’s LIFE Act to take effect immediately,” Carr said in a statement.

Naturally, the pro-abortion lobby is apoplectic. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU issued a joint statement referring to the court’s decision as a “highly unorthodox action that will immediately push essential abortion care out of reach for patients beyond the earliest stages of pregnancy.”


Axios quoted a pro-abortion attorney who said that the court’s ruling was “not surprising” but couldn’t bother to get a statement from a pro-life group outside of Carr’s statement.

Julia Kaye, staff attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “We’ll continue using every tool at our disposal to fight for abortion access in Georgia and across the country so that everyone has the power to decide if and when to have a child.”

Stacey Abrams made her reaction to the ruling personal, blaming Gov. Brian Kemp for standing up for the unborn.

“Today, Brian Kemp achieved his goal: to endanger women, strip away our right to choose, and deny our ability to make medical decisions,” she tweeted. “While it has taken over three years to take effect, the impact is clear: women are now second-class citizens in Kemp’s Georgia.”

Related: ‘They Don’t Know Pro-Life People Well’: the Bravery of Pregnancy Centers Facing Threats

Kemp issued an extensive statement praising the decision:

Since taking office in 2019, our family has committed to serving Georgia in a way that cherishes and values each and every human being, and today’s decision by the 11th Circuit affirms our promise to protect life at all stages.

We have worked hard to increase supportive services for mothers and their children — before, during, and after birth. Working with the Georgia General Assembly, we have made significant strides on several fronts — such as expanding pregnancy and parental resources, extending health coverage to a full year for mothers after birth, improving our adoption system, and reforming foster care. And, the First Lady and our girls have tackled combatting human trafficking head on. We will continue this important work in the days and months to come.

We are overjoyed that the court has paved the way for the implementation of Georgia’s LIFE Act, and as mothers navigate pregnancy, birth, parenthood, or alternative options to parenthood — like adoption — Georgia’s public, private, and non-profit sectors stand ready to provide the resources they need to be sate, healthy, and informed.


“I encourage you: REJOICE! This decision will save THOUSANDS of lives immediately,” said Cole Muzio, president of Frontline Policy Action, in a statement (emphasis in the original). “The battlefield has changed. Our law now recognizes the personhood of the unborn, protects lives, and it deals a mortal blow to the abortion industry.

“We have been preparing for this day since 2019 and applaud the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals for making the only correct decision,” Elizabeth Reed, Leadership Director of Georgia Life Alliance, told PJ Media. “Georgia’s Heartbeat Bill is now the most pro-life law in America, we are the first state ever to recognize the personhood of preborn babies. We look forward to working alongside our pro-life legislative partners to continue passing policy that builds a culture of Life, supports moms and families in crisis, and protects all human life in our state without exception.”

PJ Media spoke with the executive director of a pregnancy center here in Georgia, and she shared her hope that Georgia’s law will protect babies and help foster a culture of life.

“I can tell you that I am extremely hopeful the ‘Heartbeat Bill’ will positively impact the lives of mothers facing unexpected pregnancy,” she said. “It seems this bill has addressed some of the most common circumstances under which women will consider abortion. Most clients we see are living at or below the poverty level. Their concern about providing for their child in the future is a powerful motivator.”


“This bill not only legitimizes the life of the pre-born child but also gives its mother the opportunity to face the future with hope and joy,” she continued. “We will continue to reach out to the mothers and fathers of our community and offer them love, acceptance, and help so they may build a strong foundation and provide the very best for their families.”

Muzio says that the LIFE Act makes voting for Republicans in November that much more important for Georgians.

“For fifty years, pro-life voices have been silenced and disenfranchised at the polls,” he said in a statement to the AJC. “This election, with lives on the line, everything comes down to the ballot box. The Court is clear: states can protect life as they see fit. In Georgia, that provides a moral imperative to stand with Brian Kemp in November.”

Amen! Good for the Peach State for protecting life and taking care of families.


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