Farokhi calls for Atlanta Reproductive Justice CommissionState Capitol/Atlanta City Hall (Photo by Kelly Jordan)
By Maggie Lee
Atlanta City Councilman Amir Farokhi wants the city to set up a three-year Reproductive Justice Commission, which, among other things, would aim to increase awareness around access to reproductive health care.
It’s in part a reaction to House Bill 481, a law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature this year, which would amount to a near-total ban on abortions. (The law is held up in court at the moment.)
But when people complain to the city, it tends to be about, say, potholes, gentrification, property taxes, car break-ins or broken street lights. Not health care.
And Atlanta can’t change state criminal law — which could be used to charge abortion providers or patients under the state’s new law. Cities aren’t really in charge of public health either: the state and counties run that.
The first priority for cities are basic blocking and tackling: sewers, water, roads, police and the like.
Farokhi said, however, that more and more cities are leading on general well-being, and that is how his resolution fits into city policy.
“You want to create a city where everyone can build a family and find a healthy life. Part of that is access to reproductive health care,” said Farokhi, who represents parts of the Eastside.
By “reproductive health care,” he means abortion access, but also more than that.
It would be up to this commission to make recommendations, but Farokhi has some ideas already about some policies.
For example, making sure transit reaches health care providers, making sure menstrual products are available for Atlantans who might struggle to afford them, and making sure city employees’ health insurance covers reproductive health care including birth control.
He has some questions that he hopes the commission would find answers to: “Are our policies oriented toward healthy and just communities? Do they respect the autonomy of all people, are we being inclusive in the identities of people and how they can access reproductive health care?”
The resolution is also meant to signal to companies or people with similar policy ideas that Atlanta’s a good place for them.
Film is the easiest example of an industry that has freaked out over Republican-written state policy. Back in 2016, several large studios threatened to leave Georgia if then-Gov. Nathan Deal didn’t stop a bill that critics said would have legalized discrimination against gay people.
Some in the film industry did denounce HB 481 this year, but the industry did not make a public fight over it matching the strength of the 2016 fight.
Meanwhile, Farokhi’s resolution could be discussed in Council’s Community Development and Human Services Committee as early as Tuesday. When the resolution was filed last week, it already had eight signatures including his, a majority of Council.
City Council first reacted to HB 481 in May, less than three weeks after it was signed: By a 12-0 vote, with three absences, Council members voted their strong opposition to it, and urged the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office not to prosecute anyone under it.
Atlanta City Council proposed resolution 19-R-4931