(Reuters) – A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a Georgia law that would have prohibited women from getting an abortion after as early as six weeks of pregnancy.
The move stops the legislation from taking effect in January while a legal challenge is pending.
The law would make abortion possible only in the first few weeks of a pregnancy, in many cases before a woman even realizes she is pregnant. It would allow exceptions in cases of medical emergency.
Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Governor Brian Kemp, said the state was reviewing the decision. “Despite today’s outcome, we remain confident in our position. We will continue to fight for the unborn and work to ensure that all Georgians have the opportunity to live, grow, and prosper,” she said.
Earlier this year, a group of civil rights groups, doctors and clinics sued Georgia’s government to overturn the legislation. Similar bills were blocked in Arkansas and Ohio over the summer.
“This case has always been about one thing: letting her decide,” said Sean Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia, which was one of the plaintiffs in the case. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but every woman is entitled to her own decision.”
A number of Republican-led states this year passed laws dramatically limiting abortion. The laws are in conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which found that women have a constitutional right to abort a pregnancy.
“The court recognized today that this law is blatantly unconstitutional and a clear attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade,” said Emily Nestler, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Reporting by Maria Caspani, Editing by Cynthia Osterman