In a one-page order, the high court put a lower court ruling overturning the ban on hold while it considers an appeal. Abortion providers who had resumed performing the procedure past six weeks after the lower court ruling will again have to stop.
The order said seven of the nine justices had agreed to the decision. It said one was disqualified and another did not participate.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled on November 15 that the state’s abortion ban was invalid because when it was signed into law in 2019, U.S. Supreme Court precedent under Roe. v. Wade and another ruling allowed abortion well past six weeks.
The decision immediately prohibited enforcement of the abortion ban statewide. Abortion providers had resumed performing the procedure past six weeks, though some said they were proceeding cautiously over concerns the ban could be quickly reinstated.
The state attorney general’s office appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court. It also asked the high court for an order putting the decision on hold while the appeal was pending.
Georgia’s ban took effect in July, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. It prohibited most abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” was present.
Cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound in cells within an embryo that will eventually become the heart around six weeks into a pregnancy. That means most abortions in Georgia were effectively banned at a point before many people knew they were pregnant.