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
- Use https://openstates.org/ to find out who represents you and how to contact them
- 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
- Search your county at https://pacga.org/find-your-prosecutor/ to find your DA
- Note: Atlanta DA’s have already committed to not prosecuting people under this law