Devastating state legislation is part of the GOP’s coordinated and layered campaign to criminalize abortion across the country
For Immediate Release: April 3, 2019
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NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue hosted a press call today in response to the passage of a six-week abortion ban in Georgia, HB 481, one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country. She was joined by NARAL Pro-Choice Georgia State Director Laura Simmons, Georgia State Senator Nikema Williams (D-34), and Dr. Atsuko Koyama, a healthcare provider and physician in Atlanta.
Republican Governor Brian Kemp is poised to sign HB 481 into law after the GOP in Georgia narrowly passed the bill on Friday. Women across the state mobilized in opposition to the bill, along with business leaders and members of the entertainment industry, generating a wave of outcry that slowed passage of the bill and ultimately resulted in a tiny margin of victory for anti-choice forces: just one vote plus Speaker David Ralston.
“The women and men in Georgia who trust women to make decisions about their bodies are watching those people who voted for this unconstitutional and horrific measure,” said Georgia State Senator Nikema Williams. “And we’re going to make sure if they don’t listen to us when they cast their votes on the floor of the House or the Senate that they’re going to listen to us at the ballot box because there is no room for them in the state of Georgia to represent us or to be leaders in our state.”
“Just so we’re clear: Abortion care is healthcare,” said Dr. Atsuko Koyama. “As a provider of abortion care, I know that patients of every gender, age, race, religion, sexual identity, and zipcode need access to this safe, effective care. Georgia’s impending ban on almost all abortion care will endanger women and families both here and in surrounding states, while criminalizing physicians like me who are trying to provide compassionate, comprehensive healthcare for patients.”
Legislation starkly limiting and restricting reproductive freedom, criminalizing abortion, and punishing women has gained traction in 2019, as anti-choice Republicans make clear their ultimate agenda of overturning Roe v. Wade—regardless of the harm to women, families, and communities across the country.
“Georgia is not alone. Over a dozen states have introduced or passed similar legislation. Make no mistake, that this is an attempt to gut Roe and criminalize abortion nationwide,” said NARAL President Ilyse Hogue. “Georgia is not the first state, but we can make it the last state when we all speak out together and say that this will not stand, that we will fight through every means necessary to make sure that this country puts front and center the health, well-being, and fundamental freedom and justice for women and families to determine our own destiny and our own future.”
Bills effectively outlawing abortion have been in introduced in more than a dozen statehouses across the country. Last week Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed into a law a bill that will outlaw abortion if Roe is overturned. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant also signed a law that would ban abortion before many women know they are pregnant and just yesterday an Alabama lawmaker introduced a bill to ban abortion outright.
Women and allies sent the message that we pledge to make HB 481 a tipping point in this country. Their outrage grabbed the attention of people across the nation —from people like gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams to executives at companies like Amazon and Coca-Cola. Over one hundred of Hollywood actors also signed a letter saying they would lobby their industry not to film in Georgia if the bill becomes law, threatening to deprive the state—a popular site for film and TV shoots—of billions of dollars in revenue.
“These last few months, Governor Kemp and the extreme GOP in Georgia have made their priorities crystal clear—they have shown that they have no plans to solve the real problems facing Georgians, and instead, they used this session to further their obsession with stripping away our rights,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Georgia State Director Laura Simmons. “To be clear: HB 481 is complete rejection of the values Georgians hold. And unsurprisingly, Kemp’s extremism was met with a historic surge of activism and pressure. NARAL members, our pro-choice partners, and our champions in the legislature fought tooth and nail against this all-out assault on the reproductive health and safety of Georgia women.”
NARAL’s two million members stand with women in Georgia in the fight for reproductive rights. More than 200 NARAL Pro-Choice Georgia members and allies flooded the capitol with pressure and opposition and NARAL members also made more than 9,000 calls, sent thousands of emails, and wrote hundreds of heartfelt letters to lawmakers asking them to stand up for reproductive freedom and oppose the criminalizing of abortion.
NARAL released a detailed report late last year, stating that if elected, Kemp would be one of the worst governors in America for women and families. Kemp and his anti-choice allies in the state capitol are also dramatically out-of-step with Georgia voters, nearly 7 in 10 of whom support access to safe and legal abortion. Diverse leaders from Georgia and beyond are sending a clear signal to Kemp and anti-choice legislators across the country: the pro-choice majority is here, we are not going away, and our rights are not up for debate.