Abortion advocacy groups in Georgia have long been preparing for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. However, the recent draft leak from the Supreme Court still enraged and saddened those of us who do reproductive justice work every day.
As a Black woman who manages local campaigns to expand abortion access in Georgia, reading Justice Alito’s words reminded me of the oppressive history of the United States Supreme Court. This is the same court that told my ancestors they were three-fifths of a person in the 1857 Dred Scott case.
That decision did not keep abolitionists and freedom fighters from continuing their fight. We, too, will press on with ours.
Though we would love to see Roe protected, we know firsthand that due to opposition from conservative state and local governments, Roe could never realize its vision of liberated abortion access for all. Nowhere is this more true than in Georgia.
The reality is that many of us in Georgia have already been living in a world where abortion is too costly, too far away, or too stigmatized to be fully accessible, especially for marginalized communities. Since 2005, Georgia politicians have passed at least 13 medically unnecessary and politically-motivated abortion restrictions like requiring waiting periods, a near-total abortion ban, and insurance coverage restrictions. These restrictions, coupled with the fact that 95 percent of Georgia’s counties do not have an abortion provider, create a complex web of barriers that push safe and affordable abortion care out of reach for many Georgians.
Despite these challenges, Georgians have been organizing across communities, organizations and movements to create change locally that will make a full range of reproductive healthcare, including abortion care, accessible to all Georgians.
One place where this collective organizing and visioning is happening is at the Amplify Georgia Collaborative, where I am the Local Campaign Manager. Amplify Georgia is a collaboration between reproductive justice organizations and allies committed to protecting and expanding abortion access at the state and local levels.
Amplify consists of abortion access providers, nonprofit organizations, and members of the communities most impacted by lack of access– Black and Brown folks, young people, queer and trans folks, immigrants, and people of faith. Amplify is led by Access Reproductive Care – Southeast, the Feminist Women’s Health Center, the New Georgia Project, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) Georgia chapter, SisterSong Women of Color Collective, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, and United for Reproductive and Gender Justice (URGE). Together we created a shared vision for what RJ in Georgia can look like and are working confidently to make it a reality.
As we continue to process the recent draft leak, Amplify is championing proactive measures at the state and local levels to forge ahead in the fight for affordable and dignified abortion care for all Georgians, regardless of the decisions made at the US Supreme Court.
On Jan. 18, 2022, Amplify supported introducing a resolution in the Atlanta City Council, which passed unanimously that “urges the Georgia Legislature to join other states in protecting and promoting access to reproductive health care and the fundamental right to abortion.” This resolution came at the recommendation of the Atlanta Reproductive Justice Commission, which was created by the City Council in 2019 with the help of Amplify’s organizing efforts.
While Atlanta is a hub to which people across the South travel for abortion care, it is not the only city in Georgia fighting for better access to abortion. Amplify is also working with communities in Clarke County, where the Athens Reproductive Justice Collective is organizing to fund abortion care and establish a Reproductive Justice Commission.
At the state level, Rep. Park Cannon recently introduced a resolution that calls on the Georgia legislature to acknowledge the harm that abortion restrictions cause and commit to upholding reproductive freedom in Georgia, including protecting and expanding access to abortion care. This resolution was created after a recent study from Georgia State revealed that “state-level legalization of abortion produced a 30 to 40 percent decline in non-white maternal mortality”.
Given Georgia leads the country in maternal death, with a three times higher rate for Black women, these findings make the need to reverse Georgia’s numerous abortion restrictions and bans and affirm abortion as a fundamental right.
These resolutions will not ensure abortion access for all overnight; instead, they must be paired with a continued push to build progressive political power within Georgia. 2022 is not the time to despair. This is the time to organize and take action.
This is the time for us to use our power as constituents and voters to demand that our local and state governments build a world where everyone can access life-saving healthcare without barriers regardless of race, class, gender identity, zip code, age, or immigration status. There is a future for abortion access in Georgia if we create it.
Yemisi Miller-Tonnet, is the Amplify GA Local Campaign Manager
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