No, Georgia did not just outlaw most abortions

They tried, but they did not.  They no more outlawed abortions than a state passing a bill saying “you cannot criticize the governor” outlawed free speech.  The truth is that the court system is, in many cases, an integral part of our lawmaking process and that when states pass a law that is blatantly unconstitutional, that law simply never goes into effect.  So, no, Georgia did not, just outlaw most abortions, they passed a law that would outlaw abortions if a court allowed it to go into effect.  This law will not.

Alas, most of the news coverage I see features headlines like this CBS story:

“Abortions after six weeks will now be illegal in Georgia”

Now, once you drill down into the article (but who does that, you find out the reality):

“This law is bafflingly unconstitutional,” said Elisabeth Smith, chief counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, in an email to CBS News on Tuesday morning. “Bans like this have always been blocked by courts. [emphases mine] We will be suing Georgia to make sure this law has the same fate.”…

So-called “heartbeat bills” like Georgia’s have become a popular tool among states looking to reduce abortion access. At least 15 states have introduced similar legislation this year and the governors of Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have signed theirs into law. None of those laws have been successfully enacted, according to the reproductive health research organization the Guttmacher Institute.

Now, longer term, this could serve as a basis for a legal challenge overturning Roe v. Wade, though I find that result unlikely.  But still, until the Supreme Court does overturn Roe, laws like this our political symbolism, not actual public policy.

My educated guess on abortion is that John Roberts does not actually want to overturn Roe.  But what he will allow is laws that chip away as much as possible.  Look for TRAP laws (which restrict abortion by placing preposterous limits on abortion clinics under the obviously false guise of protecting women’s health) to dramatically expand and get even more trap-py.  I think even Roberts would probably not go with allowing this heartbeat bill which is so obviously in total contradiction to Roe, but you never know.  It would not totally shock me, however, for the court to actually allow this heartbeat and similar bills while at the same time pretending they are not actually overturning Roe.

Medium-term, this will be really interesting to see what happens at the Supreme Court and politically.  But for now, nobody is actually outlawing abortion.

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