A Message from SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! —HB 481 is now in effect

This past Wednesday, July 20th, the 11th Circuit ruled that HB 481 – Georgia’s 6 week abortion ban – would go into effect immediately. This law was extremely controversial when it was passed in 2019, leading courts to block its enforcement until now due to legal challenges. A regressively conservative three judge panel ruled that in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overrule Roe v. Wade, HB 481 should be immediately enforced in its entirety. 

This law is one of the most restrictive in the country, banning all abortion care after 6 weeks – before many people even know they are pregnant. Although there are exceptions for rape and incest, pregnant people must file a police report to qualify. Given that the “remedies” for sexual assault offered by the criminal legal system are often retraumatizing, inadequate, and focused on retributive punishment rather than what the survivor wants and needs, it’s not surprising that more than 65% of sexual assault survivors choose not to report. 

In addition to the ban itself, this law includes a fetal personhood provision that begins at fertilization. This is the first of its type to go into effect in the US, and the legal implications are expansive and unclear. This provision demands that starting at fertilization, an embryo can be counted on taxes, in the census, and for child support purposes. It also has the potential to impact and criminalize people who have IUDs and people using IVF to get pregnant. Due to racist over-policing and criminalization of Black communities, this provision is likely to be enforced in a way that disproportionately harms Black birthing people.

We are not surprised by this decision, and we are still deeply committed to unapologetically advocating to protect and increase access to abortion in Georgia. Here are some steps you can take today to support pregnant people on the ground and hold your elected officials accountable by demanding that they support pro-abortion policies: 

  • Donate to our local abortion fund, ARC Southeast, to support direct funding for abortion care and the additional travel, childcare, and other associated expenses 
  • Call or email your representatives in the state legislature and ask them to take proactive steps to expand access to abortion by supporting the Reproductive Freedom Act 
  • If you live or work in the Atlanta metro area, call your city council person and ask them to support the creation of the ATL abortion fund 
    • City Council is scheduled to vote on this on August 1st, so please make your calls before then
    • Sign onto this petition in support of the fund 
  • For people who live outside of Atlanta, call your local District Attorney and ask them not to prosecute people under this law

A Message from SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! —Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey

June 24, 2022

This morning, the Supreme Court handed down the official opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, making official what we expected following last month’s leaked draft. The Court has overruled Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, ignoring and invalidating over 50 years of precedent. This ruling nullifies the Constitutional right for birthing people to choose whether or not to end a pregnancy and opens the door for states to severely restrict and even ban access to abortion. 

This news is disheartening in a movement that holds bodily autonomy and empowered decision making at its core. We are all doing our best to honor our frustration, anger, and grief without losing the passion to continue fighting for liberation. As we sit with this challenge, we want to offer a brief meditation from Mariame Kaba on practicing hope as a discipline

“It’s work to be hopeful … You have to actually put in energy, time, and you have to be clear-eyed, and you have to hold fast to having a vision. It’s a hard thing to maintain. But it matters to have it, to believe that it’s possible, to change the world.” 

To be clear, this ruling does not make abortion illegal nationwide. Although many states can and will ban access in the wake of this opinion, options will still exist for people seeking to end a pregnancy, regardless of where they live. For example, those unable to access abortion care in their home state may be able to travel to a state where abortion is available in a clinical setting, and abortion funds can help cover the additional costs that entails. Additionally, self managed abortion with pills is becoming an increasingly accessible option, especially for those who would have to travel long distances or who face financial barriers to accessing in-person abortion care. 

The options that remain available may be more expensive, time consuming, or legally fraught than they otherwise would have been prior to this ruling. However, our movements and communities are committed to collecting and redistributing resources to get people access to care, regardless of their income or circumstance. If you are able, support people seeking abortion care by donating to your local fund, or a fund in an area that will be immediately impacted by the Dobbs decision. 

Although we were anticipating this outcome and are not surprised by the official opinion, we are still deeply disappointed. Moments like these force us to confront the reality of the political landscape we exist in – one that is often hostile to the project of Reproductive Justice and indifferent to the suffering of marginalized people. Engaging with this reality can be exhausting, but the practice of remaining hopeful and working towards positive change is an act of defiance and resilience. We invite you to join us in our Black Sanctuary spaces, FYRE camp, base member meetings, and other offerings as a way to build community, gain skills, and take care of each other as we all struggle to remain hopeful and continue fighting for our collective liberation. 

In Liberation,

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! Inc.

CLICK HERE to download the full statement


Resources: 

Information on the legal status of abortion by state: https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2022/06/13-states-have-abortion-trigger-bans-heres-what-happens-when-roe-overturned 

Information on accessing self managed abortion with pills https://www.plancpills.org/

Abortion funding for folks in Georgia: https://arc-southeast.org/

Abortion funding nationally: https://abortionfunds.org/need-abortion/

Repro Legal Helpline https://www.reprolegalhelpline.org/

A Message from SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! —Supreme Court Leak of Draft Decision in Dobbs v. Jackson

May 3, 2022

Last night, Politico leaked a draft of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, a case that challenges Mississippi’s 15 week abortion ban. In the 98 page draft, author Samuel Alito indicates that the court is poised to wholly overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that Constitutionally protects the right to an abortion in the US. The draft would also overturn Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a case that reaffirmed but narrowed the right announced in Roe.

This leaked draft is NOT the official court ruling and will NOT be binding until released as a final opinion. For the time being, abortion is still legal and Constitutionally protected across the country. A leak of this nature is unprecedented, and while it appears to confirm what we feared the Supreme Court would do this summer, it also allows the movement for abortion access time to build support and strengthen our strategy before the official opinion is announced. 

Things will likely get worse before they improve. As written, the leaked draft would make it much more difficult to access abortion and will likely lead to increased surveillance, criminalization and policing of those who choose to end a pregnancy with a disproportionate impact and focus on the most marginalized among us. This draft demonstrates a very extreme view on the liberties granted under the 14th amendment. Most notably, the opinion explicitly states its intended implications for contraception access and marriage rights. In light of these threats, we refuse to back down in our advocacy for a vision of Reproductive Justice where reproductive care, which includes abortion services and care, is accessible to everyone who wants or needs it.  More specifically, we imagine a future where marginalized people have the autonomy to make decisions about their lives, bodies, sexuality, and reproduction free from fear, stigma and shame. We envision a world where our people get to be their and their ancestors’ wildest dreams.

The fight does not end with this leak or with the pending final opinion. As we continue our on-the-ground work, we call on our current political leaders to affirm the protection of our Constitutional right to abortion. In this election year, we also strive to elect decision makers who seek to protect and expand access to equitable comprehensive sexual and reproductive care that includes abortion care. In the midst of this election season, make sure your voter registration status is up to date. You can cast your vote for primary elections in Georgia by May 24, 2022. Make sure you’re registered to vote for the November 8, 2022 general election by October 11, 2022!

We must continue our fight to protect our right to abortion and the full range of reproductive health care. With that, we must also honor our own wellness and community care in this time of action. SPARK will be hosting a Black Sanctuary wellness space on Tuesday, May 10th 6-8PM EST. Use this link to register. 

Resources: 
Repro Legal Helpline https://www.reprolegalhelpline.org/
Information on accessing self managed abortion with pills https://www.plancpills.org/
Donate to Abortion Funds: https://fundathon.nnaf.org

To support SPARK’s ongoing advocacy for Reproductive Justice in Georgia and around the country, visit http://www.sparkrj.org/donate/

In Solidarity,

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, Inc. 

SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!, Inc. responds to the signing of HB481 in Atlanta, Georgia

SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!, Inc. responds to the signing of HB481 in Atlanta, Georgia

Tuesday, May 7, 2019:

In considering GA’s extremely inferior and detrimental health crisis, especially amongst Black women and Queer, Trans and nonbinary folks, SPARK is dedicated to pursuing  proactive ways of advancing our healthcare systems, practices and outcomes. Unfortunately, our legislators have decided to play politics with Georgians and we are now here to discuss how the government has inserted itself in our personal and private life decisions by enforcing an abortion ban. To be clear, this abortion ban is a ban on health care.

It is forced pregnancy bill that denies a person their right to self-determination and bodily autonomy. This is a critical public health issue and if this ban is put in place, it will become an injurious public health crisis for this state. We can not afford this! Georgia already has the worst maternal health outcomes and maternal morbidity AND mortality rates in our nation, comparable to the maternal health outcomes of underdeveloped countries.

Georgians deserve policies and laws that eliminate systemic and structural barriers to adequate reproductive and comprehensive care, and provide universal and meaningful access to quality healthcare.

Put simply, when people lack access to safe abortion services, they die. Period. History, our current stories, and public health research/data proves that. Complications of unsafe abortions are among the leading causes of maternal illness and death. Lack of access –and now restriction of access — will not result in people not having abortions. This will only result in an increased amount of unsafe abortions. This is a critical reproductive justice and public health issue specifically for Black, brown, indigenous, Trans and Queer folks who already have severe limitations to access to affordable and affirming reproductive and sexual health services and healthcare coverage.

SPARK and our partners will continue to do the work of ending white supremacy, patriarchy and attacks on bodily autonomy. Please do not be discouraged, stay engaged and stay vigilant! We will continue to work with our legislative champions, as well as, community leaders to put forth a proactive Reproductive Justice agenda that aims to save lives and uplift our shared liberation.

For more information on SPARK and how to stay civically engaged contact:

Dr. Krystal Redman
Executive Director
SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!, Inc
info@sparkrj.org
www.sparkrj.org

Crisis Pregnancy Center Bill Announcement!

Atlanta, GA, Monday, February 11, 2019

SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!, Inc. is excited to announce that our work around Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs)—aka Fake clinics—is moving forward with HB 188; which will put an end to the grant program that gives 2 million dollars from our state budget to unregulated CPCs.

These clinics exist to shame people away from making the decision of obtaining an Abortion, as well as, give misleading information around Abortion, Sexual and Reproductive Health. State Representative Renitta Shannon —who is a Reproductive Justice champion—has sponsored the legislation and we look forward to working with her to move this piece of legislation forward.

A link to access HB188 is posted below.
http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20192020/HB/188

SPARK will highlight this bill and speak more about what it entails at our upcoming “LegislateThis!” annual advocacy day at the State Capitol. Come meet Rep. Shannon who will also deliver the keynote speech.

To attend, please register via the link below.
http://bit.ly/legislatethis

For more information contact:
SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!
Info@sparkrj.org

SPARK Responds to the State of the Union Address

Atlanta, GA, Friday, February 8, 2019

Coming off the heels of the longest government shutdown ever, Donald Trump delivered his second State of the Union Address earlier this week. Though billed as one of unity and bipartisanship, this speech was a clear mobilization effort for Trump’s base. Trump pushed very polarizing policies and ideals for the entirety of his speech, including spending a significant amount of time promoting and demanding a border wall, to calling for an abortion ban that is based on misguided and incorrect information.

As anticipated, Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address made it clear that he would stop at nothing to limit the rights of immigrant families, restrict reproductive rights, dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and ignore and facilitate voter suppression tactics. This speech further emphasized the plight of our marginalized communities, including Black women, women of color and queer and trans people of color.

In response to Donald Trump’s second State of the Union Address, Stacey Abrams provided an alternative take on what America should be and how we can achieve that reality. She exuded true leadership throughout her honest and open speech, that began with a heartwarming anecdote about her family. Abrams promoted an America that is rooted in unity, compassion, hope, fairness and a commitment to the success and wellness of our neighbors.

Stacey Abrams’ response called for safer schools, a lower cost of higher education, compassionate treatment at the borders, expansion of Medicaid, lower cost of healthcare, action against climate change, a stop to voter suppression and action against the maternal mortality rates that are dis-proportionality high within the Black community.

This administration has made and is making every effort to oppress the folks in our communities. It is through the efforts that were laid out by Stacey Abrams that this oppression can be combated. It is through the solidarity between the women Members of Congress, as seen in their all white, that this oppression can be combated.

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! will continue to fight for these marginalized communities, until every Black woman, woman of color, and queer and trans person of color has the resources and tools to make decisions about their bodies, their communities, and their futures.

Erin Gloster
Digital Communications and Development Coordinator
SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!

SPARK’s Statement on Brett Kavanaugh

Atlanta, GA; Thursday, October 4, 2018: SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, Inc, is dedicated to uplifting the well being of Black Women, Women of Color and Queer/Trans Young People of Color. Currently, the US Senate is debating on whether to confirm a nominee who has already been proven to be dishonest in his answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and who now is being accused of sexual assault by multiple accusers. SPARK believes in fairness and restorative justice; however, we see that this is not what is taking place during this whole process. The White House has made a sham out of this investigation and we are not confident in the report that was released to Senators this morning.

This nominee is problematic even without all of the baggage of multiple sexual assault accusations; Brett Kavanaugh would overturn Roe Vs. Wade, strip voting rights, and vote against environmental protections. Mr. Kavanaugh was overtly political when trying to defend himself against these multiple accusations; he has proven that he is not impartial, and he does not have the temperament to receive a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land. Kavanaugh voted against an immigrant minor seeking an abortion and he refers to birth control as abortion inducing drugs which is patently false, so this man just doesn’t understand simple science. Please join SPARK in contacting your Senators and other representatives to tell them to vote No on confirming this dangerous nominee.

SPARK Responds to Trump’s “Gag Rule”!

Atlanta, GA, Tuesday, May 21, 2018: SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! fervidly opposes any presidential action that unfairly targets a person’s right to access comprehensive care, including abortion services. This administration is continuing its trend of targeting reproductive health providers and services by affirming this unjust and unnecessary “gag rule”. This directive that will restrict federal funds from clinics that provide abortion or even refer patients to abortion providers is an attack on our right to make safe, informed decisions about our bodies and lives. Even if we ignore the absurdity of the federal government attempting to control and infringe upon private conversations between patients and their medical providers, we still must confront how on its surface, this directive is simply redundant. The Hyde Amendment of 1976 already precludes federal funds from being used for abortion. This gag rule is this administration’s way of further marginalizing already vulnerable patients seeking reproductive care and services. It’s a campaign to force providers to misinform their patients and force patients to avoid healthcare they are entitled to. If this administration is concerned about the rates of unintended pregnancies, then they should focus on helping patients retain access to birth control and comprehensive sex education. Evidence shows that when people have access to contraception and informative sex-ed programs, the rates of unintended pregnancies decreases. Clearly, the answer is not this exhaustive attack on reproductive health providers. It’s a waste of money and an affront to our human rights.

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! stands in resistance and calls on everyone to speak out against this gag policy.

TWEET YOUR THOUGHTS! Participate in this conversation by using the hashtags #NoGagRule and #SPARKOFF.

Tag SPARK on FacebookTwitter or Instagram and we will repost your comments.

Interested in being involved with SPARK? Click HERE for more information.

For more information contact:

Dr. Krystal Redman
Executive Director
SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!
Info@sparkrj.org

SPARK Responds To The Terrorist Attack In Charlottesville

Atlanta, GA, Tuesday, August 15, 2017: White nationalists gathered this past Saturday for a “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, VA, where a skirmish that can only be described as yet another domestic terror act ensued. The violence tragically ended in the death of a peaceful protester, Heather Heyer, and numerous other injuries at the hands of heavily-armed terrorists carrying everything from baseball bats to assault rifles. The white supremacist rally was staged against the planned removal of a statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee from a public park and followed an unsanctioned torchlit pre-rally Friday night on the University of Virginia campus that had also descended into violence.

Since 2001, the number of violent attacks in the U.S. inspired by far-right ideology has spiked to an average of more than 300 a year, according to a study by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. The display of violence and hatred in Charlottesville is an unmistakable instance of the white supremacist movement to silence the voices and control the bodies of those most disenfranchised. This violence works to uphold and reinforce dangerous and negative policies, practices, and culture. These actions are acts of terrorism and this terror continues to be the experience of people with marginalized identities in our country. Although this event occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, this kind of vitriol and hatred is not just a “Southern Thing”, it is a symptom of a national system of oppression that strives to completely silence the voices that are historically ignored. The grievance is made even more significant when viewed in light of the Trump administration’s reversal of a grant to a group that works to de-radicalize neo-Nazis, and to direct all funding toward fighting what the president has described as “radical Islamic terrorism.” The Department of Homeland Security had awarded the group $400,000 as part of its Countering Violent Extremism. It was the only group selected for a grant that focused exclusively on fighting white supremacy.

SPARK Reproductive Justice Now! stands firmly against any body or system that seeks to control the bodily autonomy of others and we send our sincere condolences to the victims of Saturday’s terror attack in Charlottesville, especially to the family and friends of Heather Heyer. Our goal is to ensure the liberation of all people, especially Black women, women of color, as well as queer and trans youth of color due to the legacy of systematic oppression of these groups. The resilience of our communities is staggering but our work does not exist in a vacuum and we deeply honor the allyship of people outside these groups. As we move through the coming days, we hope that this tragedy will, at the very least, reopen the conversation about protestors’ rights especially for us in Georgia, where Republican senators recently passed a “Back the Badge” bill that increases penalties for blocking “any highway, street, sidewalk or other public passage.” With this bill, it is evident that white supremacy jeopardizes the safety in our communities daily. Although the Charlottesville event has been highly publicized, attacks on the bodies of people of color, Black women, and queer and trans people are every day assaults. These events are not mutually exclusive and cannot be isolated from each other. They are connected by racism, sexism, heterosexism, and cissexism which contribute to xenophobia, transphobia, and homophobia.

Now is the time to elevate the most marginalized and silenced voices above those who wish to silence them.  It is not enough to “be a good person.” We must be engaged. We must make an intentional effort to foster cultural humility. We must be active in public and in private. We must be loud. We must be brave.

For more information contact:

Dr. Krystal Redman

Executive Director

SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!

404-331-3250

Krystal@sparkrj.org

 

Shut down the AHCA! #MyCoverageMatters

Atlanta, GA, Wednesday, May 10, 2017: The United States House Of Representatives narrowly passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) last week, rushing it into a vote even before it could be scored by the Congressional Budget Office. The AHCA is a culmination of Trump’s long-standing threat to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) which had provided one of the largest expansions of health coverage in a generation and had most notably been successful at protecting people with pre-existing conditions from health coverage discrimination.

The bill now moves to the Senate where it will be reviewed by an all-male Health Care Working Group comprising 13 Republican party leaders, including Ted Cruz and Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, in a move that has widely been criticized by both Senate Democrats and moderate conservatives.

SPARK has long worked towards medicaid expansion in Georgia and we firmly believe that the the proposed medicaid structure under the AHCA would further hinder the state’s flexibility to find innovative solutions to health disparities that face our communities. We publicly condemn this bill and call upon YOU to join us in letting our elected representatives know that the AHCA not only puts the health of millions of Americans at jeopardy but further endangers the lives of those most marginalized in society. With a list of pre-existing conditions that includes everything from pregnancy to domestic abuse and rape, the AHCA is clearly an ethically indefensible bill and does nothing to reduce premiums or expand coverage. In fact, the AHCA is slated to redirect over $600 billion in federal funds that have historically been used for coverage expansion to high-income households, effectively making it a tax-cut for the rich and not a healthcare bill for all Americans.

Activists across the nation have launched a campaign against the AHCA and SPARK urges you to add your voice to this grassroots movement to tell our elected representatives that we will not stand for this harmful bill.

TWEET YOUR THOUGHTS! Participate in our twitter chat on Tuesday 5/16 from 11:00am – 3:00pm by sharing your personal health access stories and thoughts on the already extensive list of pre-existing conditions that are not protected under the AHCA using the hashtags #MyCoverageMatters and #WeExistUnconditionally. Tag SPARK on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and we will repost your comments throughout the chat.

SHOW UP! May is Mental Health Awareness Month and SPARK will be addressing the mental health issues in our communities and highlighting the resulting impacts on relationships, employment and overall health. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 24 million Americans will lose mental health coverage by 2026 under the AHCA. Studies repeatedly show a link between lack of mental health access and homelessness and it is these members of our communities that are most vulnerable to stigmatization, exploitation and brutal victimization. SPARK will be out in the field on Thursday 5/11 from 10:00am – 11:30am speaking with homeless people in our community to record their personal mental health stories. Want to join us? Email our volunteer coordinator, Taylor Trimble (she/they) at Taylor@sparkrj.org for more information.

For more information on SPARK and the AHCA contact:

Dr. Krystal Redman

Executive Director

SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!

404-331-3250

Krystal@sparkrj.org