Abortion is legal in Georgia until a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which typically occurs when the fetus reaches a gestational age of six weeks. Thereafter, abortion is legal only if the pregnancy has been diagnosed as medically futile.
Although the 1972 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade protected abortion, the Court overruled Roe on June 24, 2022 in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. Dobbs returned to the states the right to regulate and even prohibit abortion.
In 2019, Georgia enacted a "fetal heartbeat" law, which prohibits most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected (around 6 weeks of pregnancy). On November 15, 2022, a Fulton County judge declared Georgia's fetal heartbeat law to be void from its inception, given that at the time it was enacted, the law permitted abortion up through viability. On November 23, 2022, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously put a hold on that order pending the state's appeal. Georgia's fetal heartbeat law is thus in effect for now.
Before the fetal heartbeat law was enacted, abortion was legal through a fetal gestational age of 20 weeks.
Health Insurance and Abortion in Georgia
Health plans offered in the state's health exchange under the Affordable Care Act will only cover abortion when the woman's life is endangered or her health is severely compromised. Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment. Finally, public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.
Georgia Abortion Laws at a Glance
While it's important to read the actual text of the law when you have a legal question, it's also helpful to read an overview of the law. The table below provides an overview of abortion laws in Georgia and links to applicable statutes.
Georgia Code, Title 16:
|Statutory Definition of Illegal Abortion
It's a criminal abortion to administer medicine/drugs/substance or use an instrument with intent to procure a miscarriage or abortion in a manner that isn't in compliance with Section 16-12-141.
A partial-birth abortion is unlawful unless it's necessary to save the mother's life when that life is physically endangered and no other medical procedure will suffice to save her life.
|Statutory Definition of Legal Abortion
In order for an abortion to be legal, it must be performed as follows:
- During 1st trimester: must be performed by a licensed medical doctor.
- After 1st trimester: must be performed by a medical doctor and in a licensed hospital or health facility.
- After 2nd trimester: physician and 2 consulting physicians must certify it is necessary to preserve life or health of mother.
|Penalty for Unlawful Abortion
A criminal abortion is punishable by 1 to 10 years of imprisonment.
A partial-birth abortion is punishable by up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or fines of up to $5000.
Additionally, physicians who do not follow the exact procedures outlined in the Georgia Code can be considered as having conducted unprofessional medical conduct and can be subject to medical license sanctions.
Except in a medical emergency, written, informed consent of parent or guardian of an unemancipated minor under the age of 18.
Parent must have 24-hour notice before scheduled abortion, unless waived or unless minor obtains judicial approval that minor is either mature enough to decide without parents' consent or parents' consent is not in best interests of the minor.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Georgia Abortion Laws: Related Resources
Speak to an Attorney to Learn More About Georgia Abortion Laws
Abortion laws confusing you? Not sure about the difference between federal and state laws? What about your rights under the ACA? All of these questions and more can be answered by a Georgia family law attorney in your area. If you want to learn more, considering meeting with an experienced attorney today.