Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Archbishop Hartmayer offers statement on overturning of Georgia abortion ban

By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Editor | Published November 16, 2022  | En Español

ATLANTA–Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., offered a statement Nov. 15 regarding the Fulton County Superior Court ruling, striking down Georgia’s abortion ban:

“I was in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Bishops meeting when I heard about yesterday’s ruling in Fulton County Superior Court striking down Georgia’s ban on abortion. As I have said before, no matter what law is on the books, we must be dedicated to upholding the dignity of life for all people. That includes mothers, fathers and their children. If you are scared and facing a pregnancy alone, there are people who want to help you–people who will accompany you and your family up to birth and beyond through programs like Walking with Moms in Need.  

As we journey to Bethlehem with the Holy Family this Advent, I would like to challenge all of us to do something for a family right here in Georgia in need of love and support. Someone needs your prayer, your time or your donations. In this way, you can join our advocates as they continue their work with lawmakers and other community leaders to build and support a culture of life.” 

History of the ban

The Nov. 15 ruling of Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney overturned the ban on abortion around six weeks into a pregnancy. The judge ruled the ban was unconstitutional and violated Supreme Court precedent when signed into law in 2019. His ruling, based on a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, was effective immediately.

The State Attorney General’s office has filed an appeal.

Georgia’s “heartbeat law” became effective after a July 20 ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that reversed a lower court decision.

The law banned abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. It made exceptions to save the life of the mother and in cases of rape or incest, if a police report is filed. It also made exceptions to allow abortions when a fetus has serious medical issues.

The Circuit Court ruling followed the Supreme Court’s June overturning of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

The “heartbeat” law—officially the Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act, or LIFE Act—was signed into law by Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in May 2019.

It was initially to take effect Jan. 1, 2020, but Judge Steve C. Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia temporarily blocked it in October 2019 while a lawsuit against it was argued. He later made it a permanent pause, saying the law violated abortion protections established by Roe v. Wade. Then came the high court’s ruling on Roe June 24 and the request of Attorney General Chris Carr to lift the injunction on the state law.