Photo by Feminist Women’s Health Center.

Abortion is still legal in Georgia–for now

Last week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill that effectively bans abortion by prohibiting the procedure for people who are more than six weeks pregnant. That’s before most people even know they’re pregnant.

The law is slated to go into effect in January 2020. Until then, abortions remain legal for up to 22 weeks after an abortion seeker’s last period. Some groups are already working on legal challenges, so a court injunction could stop the law from going into effect while those cases are pending.

Georgia is now in step with several state legislatures that recently passed similar bills, and could precede many more, as the anti-abortion movement pushes plainly unconstitutional laws in an effort to give the Supreme Court an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade.

While there’s been plenty of coverage delving into the draconian details of Georgia’s abortion ban, we at Scalawag want to spotlight the reproductive justice organizations that fought this bill every step of the way, and are continuing to fight it from the courts to the clinics. Here’s a list of organizations to follow and support as the battle wages on:

Access Reproductive Care (ARC)-Southeast
American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia
Feminist Women’s Health Center
NARAL Georgia
National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF)
Planned Parenthood Southeast
SisterLove, Inc.
SisterSong
SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!, Inc.
URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity
Women Engaged

Together, these groups issued a statement when Georgia legislators passed HB 481, the anti-abortion bill.

“These legislators have spent the last three weeks ignoring testimony from doctors, lawyers, nurses, social workers, and midwives; queer, trans, and non-binary folks; parents, women, and young people; and countless others who have spoken out against this bill,” the statement reads. “They have ignored our voices, dodged us at the ropes [where people line up to speak to their representatives] and in the hallways of the Capitol, and failed to show up and be accountable to their constituents.”

“If our legislators are so scared of facing their constituents, they should not have pushed through this bill.”

The advocates went on to name some of the dirty tactics public officials used to silence dissent.

“Throughout our work at the Capitol we’ve been met with increased capitol police presence, last minute changes to hearing times and room assignments, threats of arrest, and—on the day of the Senate floor vote— the largest police presence we have ever seen. If our legislators are so scared of facing their constituents, they should not have pushed through this bill.”

When Kemp signed the bill into law, these groups again made joint statement emphasizing that people seeking abortions still have options.

“[This law] will not go into effect until January 2020. Until then, legal abortion services will continue to be available in Georgia as they have been: up until 22 weeks from a person’s last period.”

“We will fight this blatant attack on our rights and agency, both in the courts and in the streets.”

And they made it crystal clear what’s at stake.

“We are resolute in our opposition to this bill. Not only is it blatantly unconstitutional but it directly contradicts best medical and public health practices and will cost Georgians millions of dollars in lost revenue and court expenses––money that would be better used to decrease maternal and infant mortality rates and expand access to healthcare.”

“Restrictions like HB 481 disproportionately and intersectionally affect the health and autonomy of communities like ours––those who are Black, brown, young, LGBTQI, immigrant, or striving to make ends meet. That’s why we will fight this blatant attack on our rights and agency, both in the courts and in the streets.”