July 21, 2022 1:57 PM
|Updated: July 25, 2022 4:52 PM
Abortion access is poised to take center stage in Democrats’ campaign against Republican opponents on the ballot in November after the state’s strict abortion law took effect.
With the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn nearly 50 years of federal abortion protections, states have become the battleground for abortion rights. Almost immediately after the ruling, GOP-controlled states across the country began cracking down and even eliminating access.
As expected by abortion providers, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Georgia’s 2019 abortion ban held up in court is lawful and should immediately take effect.
The decision fanned the flame of an already contentious general election cycle. Shortly after the ruling, Stacey Abrams and a crowd of Democratic state lawmakers gathered in Atlanta.
“In this election, women have the right to control the future,” the Democratic gubernatorial candidate said. “And we need to turn out and win this election, because this election is about the future of the state of Georgia. It's about the future of the women of Georgia.”
Stacey Abrams talks the battle over abortion rights in Georgia.
Democrats vowed to push back against the law, which bans abortion at around six weeks of pregnancy, and slammed Republican leadership.
“It’s a sad day for the rights of women to be considered human beings and equal to everybody else,” said lieutenant governor candidate Charley Bailey. “This is a culmination of 20 years of right-wing leadership in this state that attacks the ability of women to make their own decisions about their bodies, the taxes, the right to privacy that we all are supposed to enjoy.”
But even if Abrams is elected by voters as Georgia’s next governor, Republicans hold a comfortable majority in the Georgia General Assembly. The situation could result in a contentious back and forth between lawmakers and the governor’s office.
Polling done by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed that a majority of Georgians — around 70% — do not support the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
Democrats are seizing the opportunity to drive home the potential negative impacts of Georgia’s new abortion restrictions.
State Rep. Bee Nguyen, democratic nominee for secretary of state, pointed to Georgia’s high maternal death rate that lawmakers have worked to combat for years.
“Georgia is a state where we have one of the highest mother mortality rates, where Black women are dying at a higher rate,” she said. “...We know this will result in the loss of more lives, of more Black and brown women, of girls.”
Democrats in Congress have failed at efforts to codify federal abortion protections following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe. The result is a patchwork of state policy across the country determining whether or not women can access abortion services.
Abrams said Wednesday that while federal Democrats struggle to overcome filibuster rules in the Senate to pass key legislation, rights to abortion services ultimately comes down to who sits in the governor’s office.
“It would be nice to have support from Washington, but this is a battle that's going to be fought in Georgia,” she said.
Riley Bunch is a public policy reporter at Georgia Public Broadcasting, covering the intersection of government and daily life. Bunch has won awards for both her journalism and photography during her time in Georgia.
A court will hear oral arguments in the new state constitutional challenge of Georgia’s strict abortion law later this month. On Wednesday, a Fulton County judge shot down a motion to delay the case until after the consequential Nov. 8 midterms.
Republican incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp praised the Supreme Court's ruling in June that returned the decision on abortion care back to states.
Local elected officials plan to push back against state’s strict abortion law.
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