Commentary: Georgia’s heartbeat law will continue to save lives in a post-Roe era


Georgia Baptists are so thankful for the ruling of the Georgia Supreme Court that was in favor of Georgia’s heartbeat law! This is a big victory for life in Georgia!

Judge Robert McBurney presided over the original case in the Fulton County Superior Court, which challenged the constitutionality of the LIFE Act. SisterSong, et al, asked Judge McBurney to essentially repeal the LIFE Act and argued that the law was unconstitutional at the time it was passed in 2019, before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a legal principle known as “void ab initio.”

Judge McBurney agreed and ruled in favor of SisterSong and the abortion industry – ordering that two sections of the law were unconstitutional at the time of passing and therefore invalid: the abortion restriction and reporting requirement. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr appealed the decision to the Georgia Supreme Court where oral arguments were heard in March of this year.

Early this morning, the Georgia Supreme Court finally released its decision, finding that Judge McBurney’s ruling was legally unsound, and that the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade eliminated a federal “right” to abortion and thereby secured Georgia’s right to protect babies in the womb under our heartbeat law!

The justices, in a 6-1 decision, reversed McBurney’s decision and remanded the case back to the trial court to consider other challenges to the law which were presented in the original case, but not weighed in the ruling. Most importantly: Georgia’s Heartbeat Law continues to remain in effect and saves lives!

Essentially, when the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe and Casey, it was not simply ‘overturned’ – it was vacated entirely. Legally speaking, this means that abortion was NEVER constitutional and that the initial decisions in Roe and Casey were invalid.

The Supreme Court has done this in the past; for example, with slavery and segregation. Therefore, SisterSong, et al’s argument that the heartbeat bill was unconstitutional at the time it was passed is simply legally unsound – because, in the eyes of the courts, Roe wasn’t valid and didn’t apply.

We once again want to thank Gov. Brian Kemp for signing House Bill 481 – the Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act (Life Act) in 2019. His leadership in 2019, alongside that of Rep. Ed Setzler and Sen.Renee Unterman, has been extraordinary and so needed.

We also want to thank the work of Attorney General Chris Carr and his office as they have defended this legislation in legal battle after legal battle. They never stopped continuing to fight for the constitutionally guaranteed right to life.

All Georgians have many reasons to thank the Lord for this kind of legislation and for the legislators who were willing to put it all on the line to see it passed! 

The LIFE Act remains one of the most meaningful and impactful pieces of legislation ever passed at the Georgia State Capitol. As Georgia Baptists, we know that this law reflects our values as a denomination regarding the Biblical standard that ALL life is valuable, created in the image of God, and worthy of protection under our state constitution. See our GBC 2014 Resolution: RESOLUTION ON PERSONHOOD AND THE SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE.

Through the upholding of the LIFE Act, Georgia is one of the first states in the entire nation to have codified the “Legal Personhood” of the unborn child – a child who possess unique DNA, an intricate circulatory system knit together by our Creator Himself, and unique blood type. Legal Personhood protects these innocent babies from abortion as soon as they have a detectable heartbeat.

In addition to this protection, the LIFE Act affords new benefits to expecting mothers like access to child support and an unborn child state tax credit. This legislation provides the unborn child with the same rights that you and I have and cherish. 

Georgia Baptists stand firmly behind the Georgia Supreme Court’s ruling and thank the six justices behind the decision. This ruling defends the most vulnerable among us! Let us all thank the Lord and continue to fight for the rights of all unborn children going forward!

Never has there been a time in this country, since the overturning Roe vs. Wade, that we needed to act more quickly to begin saving more lives and reshaping our nation’s conscience on the sanctity of all human life!


Mike Griffin is the Public Affairs Representative of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.