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ACLU, doctors challenge state's 'heartbeat' abortion law citing it violates Georgia's Constitution

The suit, filed in Fulton County, is asking the court to block the law as it winds through the legal process.

ATLANTA — One of the nation's largest civil rights organizations and Georgia physicians are challenging the state's abortion law in court.

The ACLU, reproductive health care providers and pro-choice advocates filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Tuesday -- framing it as a state constitutional challenge against Georgia's LIFE Act. 

"It is difficult to imagine a greater infringement on an individual's right to liberty and privacy than to be forced to undergo 34 weeks of pregnancy and hours or days of labor and delivery and then in most cases parent a child for the rest of their lives," Julia Kaye, an attorney with the ACLU said during the question and answer portion of a news conference announcing the lawsuit. 

The legislation, which was signed into law by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019, went into effect last week. Georgia's law, which bans abortion around six weeks of pregnancy, was frozen from taking effect amid court challenges and was able to formally roll out after the Supreme Court reversed decades of precedent and walked back its decision on Roe v. Wade, which established abortion as a constitutional right.

RELATED: What happens to Georgia's abortion law if Roe v. Wade is overturned?

In this new legal challenge, the ACLU and physicians assert in the Fulton County lawsuit that the legislation was "void from the start under Georgia judicial precedent because it clearly violated federal constitutional precedent when enacted in 2019," according to a news release. 

"The Georgia Supreme Court has robustly protected the right to refuse medical treatment, the right of a prisoner not to be force-fed, and the right to private sexual conduct," Kaye said.

Groups are also arguing Georgia's Constitution and its protection for the right to privacy prohibits the law from impeding one's personal and medical decisions.

11Alive's Joe Henke asked the Attorney General's Office how they plan to handle the case.

“We are currently reviewing this filing and we will uphold our constitutional duty, as we do with all lawsuits against the state," a spokesperson with the office said.

Challengers are also asking the state court to block the law as the suit proceeds through the courts.

"Georgia is a state that values life at all stages, and the Georgia LIFE Act, which is now law, is one of many measures that reflects those values - much like our work with partners in the Georgia General Assembly to expand pregnancy and parental resources, extend health coverage to a full year for mothers after birth, improve our adoption system, reform our foster care system, and protect those most vulnerable," a spokesperson for the governor's office said in a statement. "We will continue the important work of protecting life at all stages and increasing supportive services for mothers and their children before, during, and after birth."

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