ATLANTA (AP) – A federal judge is permanently blocking Georgia’s 2019 “heartbeat” abortion law, finding that it violates the U.S. Constitution. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled against the state Monday in a lawsuit filed by abortion providers and an advocacy group. Jones had temporarily blocked the law in October, and it never went into effect. The new ruling permanently enjoins the state from ever enforcing House Bill 481. The measure sought to ban abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” was present, with some limited exceptions. Cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Jones found the law violated the 14th Amendment. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who has supported the restriction, immediately vowed an appeal.
ATLANTA (AP) – An Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis finds Georgia public health investigators are reaching a smaller share of people who may be infected as the number of COVID-19 cases in the state rises. The newspaper finds that contact tracers interviewed 37% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 between June 23 and July 8, down from 60% between May 15 and June 22. Georgia State University public health Professor Harry Heiman says that with the number of coronavirus infections soaring in Georgia, it may be impossible to keep up. The number of confirmed infections statewide topped 120,000 Monday, while the trend in deaths rose for the fourth day in a row. A total of 2,600 people are in Georgia hospitals with the virus, another record.
ATLANTA (AP) – The parents of an 8-year-old Atlanta girl slain near the site of an earlier police killing pleaded for the public to help find whoever is responsible. In an emotional Monday news conference, the family announced an “all-hands-on-deck” effort that will include canvassing several neighborhoods with flyers, and a new hotline for tips and a total of $50,000 in reward money. Atlanta police released images late Sunday of a second person of interest in the killing of Secoriea Turner on the Fourth of July. It happened near the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by a police officer.
ATLANTA (AP) – Civil rights groups called for Georgia lawmakers to repeal the state’s 19th-century citizen’s arrest law Monday. But some Republican lawmakers voiced concerns that without the law, property owners might not have the authority to detain thieves until police arrive. The law came under criticism after it was initially used as a justification for the white men who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, near Brunswick in February. Advocates say the law is steeped in racism and slavery, and was used to round up escaped slaves and then to justify lynching African Americans. Efforts to repeal the law failed this year. The House Judiciary Non-civil Committee is holding a hearings this summer, and changes could be considered next year.