The US states of Georgia and Tennessee have said they will defend laws protecting unborn babies from abortion, after they were blocked by judges.
Both states’ laws prevent an abortion from taking place once a heartbeat can be detected, usually around the sixth week of pregnancy.
But federal judges blocked the legislation, claiming they would make it harder for women to obtain an abortion.
When House Bill 481 was passed last year, Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp said: “I realise that some may challenge it in a court of law, but our job is to do what is right not what is easy.”
Responding to news of the legal challenge he said he would appeal the ruling against his state, saying: “Georgia values life and we will keep fighting for the rights of the unborn.”
Tennessee’s law, House Bill 2263, prevents unborn babies from being aborted on the grounds of race, sex or Down’s syndrome. Before proceeding with an abortion, doctors must tell the mother the gestational age of her unborn child, display ultrasound images and play her child’s heartbeat if audible.
Gillum Ferguson, spokesman for Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, said: “Governor Lee strongly believes we must protect the rights of the most vulnerable in our state, and there are none more vulnerable than the unborn. We look forward to defending this law in the courts to protect the dignity of every human life in Tennessee”.
Several other US states passed laws last year protecting unborn babies from abortion after a heartbeat is detected.
In December, the US Supreme Court refused to block a Kentucky law requiring doctors to describe ultrasound images to mothers seeking an abortion.
Abortion doctors were appealing a previous ruling upholding the law, which also requires doctors to play mothers their child’s heartbeat.
Lawyers for Kentucky had said that “nothing can better inform a patient of the nature and consequences of an abortion than actually seeing an image of the fetus who will be aborted and receiving a medically-accurate description of that image”.