Opponents of Georgia's ban on most abortions after 20 weeks since fertilization have found comfort—but not strategy—in a federal appeals court's recent ruling against a similar law in Arizona.
Rather than relying on the federal principles that felled Arizona's law, the Georgia plaintiffs argue that the state constitution's right to privacy protects a right to abortion. If it's successful, the challenge could etch a constitutional right to abortion in Georgia that would stand even if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturns Roe v. Wade.
The Superior Court of Fulton County last Friday temporarily suspended a Georgia law banning pre-viability abortions. The law would have criminalized virtually all abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy, with only an extremely narrow exception for the woman's health.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Georgia challenged the law on behalf of three Georgia obstetrician-gynecologists whose patients include women in need of this essential medical care.
“This law places women in harm’s way by depriving them of the right to make their own serious medical decisions,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Politicians should not place ideology over a woman's health."
Although very few abortions occur after 20 weeks, a woman who has an abortion at this point does so for a variety of reasons, including the fact that continuing the pregnancy poses a threat to her health, that the fetus has been diagnosed with a medical condition or anomaly, or that the pregnancy has failed, and miscarriage is inevitable.
“We’re glad that this dangerous, overreaching law has been put on hold,” said Chad Brock, staff attorney with the ACLU of Georgia. “If our elected officials want to help women, they should be passing laws that increase their access to vital health services – not putting them in jeopardy by denying them critical care.”
For more information on this case, please visit: www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom-womens-rights/lathrop-et-al-v-deal-et-al
Lathrop, et al. v. Deal, et al. - Preliminarty Injunction
Atlanta, GA - October 24, 2012
Today the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) and the ACLU of Georgia filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The suit seeks public records documenting the effects of Georgia’s increasing involvement in immigration enforcement, including information that will shed light on increasing reports of racial profiling and police abuse.
The two organizations requested the records over six months ago. With representation by the ACLU of Georgia, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic, the lawsuit alleges that DHS and ICE have failed to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, and demands the release of the requested records.
Azadeh Shahshahani, counsel for the ACLU of Georgia commented, “Transparency is integral to a democratic society. Yet by withholding the records, ICE is preventing the shining of much needed light on the extent of the collaboration between this agency and local police in Georgia.”
The impact of Georgia’s experiment with immigration enforcement—through 287(g) agreements, the Secure Communities program, and HB 87—is largely unstudied. The records sought in the lawsuit will reveal who is being targeted for immigration enforcement, and how increased immigration enforcement by police is impacting public safety and civil rights.
Adelina Nicholls, Executive Director of GLAHR explained, "Immigrant communities have felt the aggression inside their own local neighborhoods since the implementation of 287(g) and the Secure Communities Program. HB87 increased the anti-immigrant climate and now overwhelming amounts of family members in our communities have been detained under minor traffic violations, as many of them are being arrested without a 'probable cause.'
Throughout the state of Georgia we are organizing to keep racial profiling out of our communities and we want to be informed about the programs that we see contributing to it. We shouldn't have to sue for transparency but if the Department of Homeland Security and ICE refuse to honor the law, we will do what it takes to shine a light on what is happening in Georgia."
The complaint can be viewed here: http://www.acluga.org/files/9413/5108/5027/GLAHR_v_ICE_Complaint.pdf
As the first year anniversary of the signing into law of Georgia’s House Bill 87 approaches, the ACLU Foundation of Georgia today released an updated version of Frequently Asked Questions about the Georgia Racial Profiling Law. The pamphlet includes information about the various sections of law and their implementation, the legal challenge, where the law now stands, as well as the negative impact of the law on Georgia’s economy and reputation. Download the pamphlet for more information.
For Immediate Release
April 19, 2012
ATLANTA – Georgia has agreed to make it easier for people who receive food stamps, Medicaid and other public assistance to register to vote, in a settlement of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups.
“This is what government in a democracy should be doing,” said Laughlin McDonald, director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, “making sure that as many eligible people as possible have the ability to participate. We’ve seen far too many attempts to keep people away from the ballot box this year. With this settlement, at least, Georgia is moving in the right direction.”
The suit charged Georgia was violating the National Voter Registration Act, popularly known as the “motor voter act.” A provision of the law requires states to offer opportunities to register to vote at all offices that offer public assistance.
Under the agreement, Georgia will allow residents to register whenever they apply for, renew or change an address for an assistance program, regardless of whether they come to an office or contact an office over the phone, by mail, or over the Internet.
According to the lawsuit, voter registrations through assistance agencies in Georgia had dropped off drastically since the motor voter law went into effect in 1995. In the first year of the new law, over 100,000 people applied to register through assistance agencies. By 2009, only 4,430 did, even though 70,000 Georgians a month were applying for food stamps alone.
The coalition that brought the suit also included the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, Demos, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Project Vote, the Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda and the law firm Dechert LLP.
Download the settlement.