A Message From SPARK RJ NOW! – GA HB 481 | Sister Song v. State of GA Ruling

This morning, we learned that the Georgia Supreme Court released their ruling on case Sister Song v. State of Georgia, and have decided to allow the six week abortion ban to remain in effect, forcing birth upon Georgia residents. You can read a summary of the opinion HERE. We are frustrated, we are sad, but we remain determined and unwavering. 

Georgia’s House Bill (H.B.) 481 took effect shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade abortion protections last year. Following its enactment, this forced birth bill has been involved in litigation with this opinion being the latest in what has been a lengthy battle. This is a dangerous law and will continue to cause harm to communities already marginalized. As Georgia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, a rate even higher for Black birthing folks, the state’s concern should be toward making sure pregnant folks have all the resources they need, including abortion access.  

Although these arguments did not prevail, this case will continue through the courts. It has been sent back to the trial court of Fulton County to determine whether this law violates the Georgia State Constitution. We will follow with updates as this continues, hopefully with safer and healthier outcomes. 

To be clear, this ruling does not change the current law, it just allows it to stay in effect. A person seeking abortion care within the state can do so prior to six weeks, but that is often well before a person even knows they are pregnant. It is illegal to access abortion care at around six weeks OR when electrical activity is detected by ultrasound in the uterus. This forces many Georgians to seek care outside of the state, a trying and sometimes impossible task. 

SPARK remains dedicated to expanded abortion access and abortion justice for all Georgians and will continue to fight. 

We know that this abortion ban and all other barriers to abortion services are the most harmful for our marginalized kin, especially those of us who are Black, brown, Indigenous, im/migrants, disabled, low-income, queer, and trans/gender-diverse.

If you have questions about your legal rights surrounding abortion, check out the If/When/How Repro Legal Helpline

When the government fails to protect us, we protect each other. 

In solidarity,

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!

Summary of opinion

A Message from SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! —UPDATE ON SB 435

This week the Senate Education and Youth Committee voted in favor of SB 435, a bill that would prevent trans and gender expansive children and young adults from participating in school sports on teams that correspond with their gender identity. If passed into law, this bill would harm all young people – cis, trans, intersex, and gender expansive alike – with particularly troubling implications for Black girls and young women. For more detailed information on how this bill would negatively impact students in Georgia schools, please see our detailed statement

We unapologetically oppose this transphobic and misogynistic piece of legislation. We are deeply disappointed, although not particularly surprised, that the committee voted in its favor. However, this committee is only one set of decision makers that the bill needs to go through before it becomes a binding law. We invite all of our base to join us in continuing to fight it as it goes through the next steps in the legislative process, whether that be through contacting your legislators, giving committee testimony, or educating others in community about the bill. 

To gain advocacy skills and have opportunities to speak directly to your legislators, please register to attend our Legislate This! advocacy day on March 3, 2022. 

A Message from SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! —SB 435

On Monday, February 1st, a group of Senators in the Georgia Legislature introduced SB 435, a bill that denies the existence of trans and gender expansive students in Georgia schools and actively excludes them from full participation in school athletics. 

If passed, SB 435  would require K-12 schools to discriminate against trans and gender expansive student athletes. Hyperbolic and unsupported claims of unfair competition are no justification for systematically excluding children as young as 5 years old from participation in sports. This bill serves no legitimate purpose and is yet another thinly veiled attempt to advance a bigoted, transphobic agenda.

Trans and gender expansive students experience significantly higher rates of depression and anxiety than their cisgender peers. However, when their families and communities accept and reflect back their names, pronouns, and identities, these students have better mental health outcomes across all measures. Requiring schools to discriminate against their trans and gender expansive students will make it impossible for educators to create environments that foster community acceptance and support. We need legislation that will protect the mental wellbeing of all students, not a bill that will exacerbate existing disparities. 

Trans and gender expansive folks, even when they are young, know themselves. They deserve space to explore their identity and self expression without having to sacrifice opportunities to participate on teams that affirm and respect who they are. Trans and gender expansive children and young adults exist and have always existed, and they are valuable members of our communities. We demand that the Georgia Legislature treat them as such. 

Join us for our annual SPARK Organizing Intensive

New to organizing? Want to develop your leadership while building community with other advocates? What does liberation look like to you?

Leading up to our annual Legislate THIS! Advocacy Day. Join SPARK as we discuss the issues that impact our communities the most and learn how we can build the power needed for us to live our most liberated lives. This training is for new and seasoned organizers and advocates who want to learn about the issues facing Georgia today and gain the valuable skills necessary to build power and effect change.

You will gain:

  • Concrete organizing and campaign development skills
  • Tools and tips for organizing & advocacy
  • Useful information about the 2022 legislative session
  • The confidence to speak truth to power
  • The opportunity to build community with fellow RJ leaders

The SPARK Organizing Intensive is a space that centers Black queer, trans, and nonbinary young people. We invite all to register, but we are amplifying the issues that impact those that exist at the margins.

SPARK will provide $25 Uber meal codes to all participants.

Register by visiting: bit.ly/soi-2022

A Message from SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! —Texas Abortion Ban

September 3, 2021

As a Reproductive Justice organization that fiercely and unapologetically advocates for unrestricted access to abortion for anyone who wants it, SPARK strongly opposes the six-week abortion ban that went into effect in Texas earlier this week. This ban is an unconstitutional affront to reproductive autonomy, and will force many people to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. 

Like all barriers to abortion access, the Texas ban will have a disproportionate impact on People of Color – particularly Black and Indigenous folks – as well as queer and trans people, low income individuals, people with disabilities, and those who experience multiple forms of marginalization due to systemic and interpersonal hierarchies of oppression. Where you live, who you are, or the amount of money you make should never determine whether or not you get to make the significant and life-changing choices about your body and reproductive future. 

The Supreme Court had the opportunity to intervene and block the ban from going into effect, but they chose to blatantly ignore existing constitutional precedent and do nothing. In our overwhelmingly conservative judicial system, we can no longer rely on the rights promised by Roe v. Wade. In Georgia and the entire Southeast, we need to continue to fight tirelessly in our communities and state legislatures to protect and increase abortion access. Although the Texas ban going into effect is a significant step in the wrong direction, we cannot let it lead to discouragement and inaction. Instead, we need to use our anger and solidarity with people in Texas as a tool to strengthen the Reproductive Justice movement. 

SPARK will continue to advocate against all barriers to abortion access that are introduced in Georgia, and create opportunities for our base members to make their voices heard. We urge you to directly support people in your community by donating to your local abortion fund, or to funds in Texas that continue to provide vital resources to people seeking abortion care there. When the government fails to provide the things we need to thrive, we need to take care of each other. 

 

In solidarity, 

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!

SPARK Statement on the Atlanta Homeless Union Demands and City Response

July 9, 2021

SPARK stands in solidarity with the Atlanta Homeless Union in their demand for housing, healthcare, water, and a seat at the table. These demands represent central tenets of Reproductive Justice – we all need access to safe places to live, clean water, comprehensive healthcare, and a say in the policies that govern us in order to make liberatory decisions about our bodies, lives, and futures. 

Due to systemic and interpersonal structures of oppression, economic insecurity is correlated along lines of racism, homophobia, transphobia, and misogynoir. Our base members in particular face a heightened risk of experiencing housing insecurity, especially at a time where access to affordable housing has reached the point of crisis in Atlanta. We demand that our city leadership use taxpayer funds to address the tangible outcomes of structural inequality by increasing access to necessary resources – including creating long term housing options. 

We strongly oppose the Atlanta Police Department’s decision to sweep the Atlanta Homeless Union’s encampment and make a series of arrests on Monday. The criminalization of housing insecurity does nothing to address the root of the problem, but is instead an attempt to hide the existence and humanity of unhoused people. Arresting people for the circumstances of housing insecurity does not keep our communities safe. Instead, we need access to resources, safety from police violence, and decreased surveillance in order to thrive. The Union deserves a platform to safely exercise their First Amendment rights without fear of being further victimized by APD and the criminal legal system. 

A Message From SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! – The Equality Act

The Equality Act
February 25, 2021

Today, Thursday, February 25, 2021, the United States House of Representatives is set to vote on the Equality Act. The Equality Act is a bill that would legally ban discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This bill would be an amendment to the already existing federal civil rights laws to include the aforementioned protections as well as prohibiting such discrimination in public places, on transportation and in government-funded programs.

Although many states have established anti-discrimination legislation, many of these laws have left the queer, Trans and gender diverse communities vulnerable to discrimination. This long overdue legislation is a necessity in the protection of our folks’ basic human services. The Reproductive Justice movement is rooted in the belief that all individuals and communities should have the resources and power to make sustainable and liberatory decisions about their lives. If passed, The Equality Act will bring us one step closer to a reality in which this is possible.

In Georgia we are currently facing HB 276 — “a bill that would make it illegal for Trans girls and women to participate on sports teams with their cisgender peers. This is one of many similar bills filed in state legislatures across the country as part of a coordinated attack on the rights of Trans and gender diverse people in the U.S.” (SPARK HB 276 Statement). The passing of The Equality Act could potentially put a halt to bills such as Georgia’s HB 276, guaranteeing through law that these blatantly Transphobic bills do not have a standing in our society. 

The full text of The Equality Act is available here.

A Message from SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, Inc. – Insurrection Response

Insurrection Response
January 8, 2021

It goes without saying that this week’s insurrections were the inevitable culmination of a country that protects the interests of white supremacy. Georgia’s capitol building saw a similar demonstration, and we can’t help but note the stark contrast between the response to this incident and the uprisings this summer. To witness coordinated, armed combatants determined to protect the interests of white supremacy surge around the nation protected by police officers and goaded by the president is an affront to Black people who have been victims of and witnessed state violence perpetrated against them, particularly Black queer and Trans folks who have been murdered by the state. This insurrection is a response to the perceived threat to white supremacy and its interests. As we inch towards liberation, it is clear that the goals of Reproductive Justice and Queer and Trans liberation go against those of the harmful, oppressive systems in which we currently live. 

This incident and the COVID-19 pandemic have laid bare the fact that the current capitalist white supremacist system that we live in is untenable. Despite the impending change in administration, demonstrations of this nature will not stop. The oppressive systems that we live within continue to exist. It is a system that is harmful to all of us and pervades most if not all facets of our lives. At this moment, rage is acceptable, despair is acceptable, fatigue is acceptable; complacency is not. This is a moment where we must center the needs and safety of Black queer and trans folks particularly as they are disproportionately murdered by the state. SPARK will continue to center these voices and work to abolish these systems and affirm Reproductive Justice and Queer Liberation. We recognize that true power lies within the people and communities organizing and strategizing against harmful policies and systems. Now more than ever is a time to find your community, organize, and care for one another.

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, Inc is a grassroots organization that builds community and fights for the liberation of all Black, brown, and indigenous people of color. We uplift and honor those working for justice across the nation and will continue to advocate for our communities. To learn more about SPARK, organizing, and legislative advocacy, you can attend SPARK’s Organizing Intensive on January 30.