Atlanta City Council backs abortion rights as Supreme Court deliberates
By David Pendered
The Atlanta City Council has added its voice in support of abortion rights as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a demand from Mississippi that justices reverse Roe v. Wade.
The council approved a resolution that endorses “the fundamental right to abortion.” The paper calls on the Georgia Legislature to protect abortion rights and also provide family planning and maternal care.
Atlanta’s resolution contends that abortion restrictions inflict harm on a disproportionate number of women who are “racial minorities, the disabled, rural Georgians, youth, immigrants, and those experiencing financial and economic hardship.”
Georgia State University researchers released a paper in December that reports access to legal abortion reduced the maternal death rates among non-whites by up to 40 percent.
“Our results suggest that legal abortion reduced non-white maternal mortality by 30 to 40 percent, with little impact on overall or white maternal mortality,” according to GSU’s report, “The Impact of Legal Abortion on Maternal Health: Looking to the Past to Inform the Present.”
Atlanta’s paper was sponsored by seven councilmembers: Amir Farokhi, Alex Wan, Jason Winston, Liliana Bakhtiari, Jason Dozier, Antonio Lewis and Marci Collier Overstreet.
The paper provides three resolutions:
“NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA, that the Atlanta City Council hereby expresses its commitment to reproductive justice and the protection of reproductive health care rights, which includes the right to access safe and legal abortion care and individuals’ rights to make decisions about their own reproductive health.
“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Atlanta City Council urges the Georgia Legislature to join other states in protecting and promoting access to reproductive health care and the fundamental right to abortion by doing the following: (1) promoting preventive health care services for all; (2) ensuring that every individual has access to comprehensive, affordable health care that includes pregnancy-related care, including prenatal care, miscarriage management, family planning services, abortion care, labor and delivery services, and postnatal care; and (3) improving access to reproductive health care.
“BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that upon passage of this resolution, the Municipal Clerk shall provide copies to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, Governor Brian Kemp, as well as all members of the Georgia General Assembly.”
Atlanta’s message supports the position of states including New Jersey, which this month passed a state law to keep abortion legal within state boundaries. The purpose is to prepare for the event the Supreme Court rules that abortion is a matter for each state to determine for itself.
The Atlanta City Council’s resolution measure has no legal impact. It does express Atlanta’s position in support of abortion rights as the capital of a state fighting in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta to restrict a woman’s access to legal abortion. Georgia’s law bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and adds measures including a 24-hour waiting period, parental notification for minors and a ban on insurance for public employees to cover abortion care beyond limited situations.
The judge has stated no ruling will be dispensed on this case until after justices have ruled in the Mississippi case.
Georgia lawmakers are not expected to try to pass more stringent measures in the current legislative session.
House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) said in published reports in December Georgia should not take up additional abortion legislation until the Supreme Court renders an opinion in the Mississippi case. Justices heard arguments in December and are expected to issue a ruling by June 30.