A federal judge on Tuesday said that Georgia's abortion law cannot take effect while a larger legal challenge is pending.

The Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act bans most abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected, around six weeks into pregnancy. The law was slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

In a 47-page order, U.S District Court Judge Steve Jones granted the motion for preliminary injunction filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and several reproductive rights groups that temporarily halts the law from taking effect. 

The organizations say Georgia's new law is unconstitutional and runs counter to decades of Supreme Court precedent on abortion, arguing that the abortion law violates the Fourteenth Amendment's right to privacy and liberty, among other reasons.

Another issues rests with the statute's redefining of "natural person" in the state code. The plaintiffs argue that so-called personhood language is vague and could lead to confusion and arbitrary enforcement. 

The combination of abortion restrictions and the personhood language has led abortion rights advocates and opponents to argue Georgia’s bill could make its way up to the Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn existing case law.

Reaction to the decision was swift.


"This case has always been about one thing: letting her decide," Sean J. Young with the ACLU of Georgia said in a statement. "Everyone is entitled to their own opition, but every woman is entitled to her own decision."

“This is a victory for the people of Georgia and the entire nation," President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast Staci Fox said in a statement. "Governor Kemp heard from thousands of Georgians who opposed this unconstitutional ban, but he chose to ignore them and sign this into law anyway."

The Georgia Life Alliance, an abortion rights-opposing group that has supported the bill, tweeted Tuesday the order "is yet another act of judicial activism against innocent life."

Read the full order below: