Georgia Republicans started this nightmare Taliban-type war on women’s reproductive rights with HB 481, the six-week Heartbeat bill, sponsored by state Rep. Ed Setzler and other Republicans.
Texas took Georgia’s “Heartbeat” bill and made it worse with SB 8 that bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected with no exceptions for rape or incest. Then they allowed vigilante bounty hunters to enforce this bill by stalking women and report anyone found to help women get an abortion. These vigilantes are rewarded with $10,000 if they succeed in suing their victims.
The Supreme Court could have stopped this anti-woman madness but in a 5-4 decision on September 1, they denied a request from women’s health providers to block enforcement of the Texas law.
Women can’t depend on the Supreme Court to support women’s reproductive rights because we have one very arrogant, entitled serial rapist on the Supreme court and another sexual predator. These men are incapable of justice or fairness toward women.
In Washington, DC women marched to the U.S. Supreme Court because soon the court will consider a Mississippi case that could enable them to overturn abortion rights established in 1973 by Roe v. Wade.
Do these Republican men have a delusion that women will passively become like “Handmaidens” – breeders that they control? But what they will get is a mad as hell army of women who will vote these Neanderthal patriarchal authoritarians out of power in Congress and statehouses.
Today, October 2, 2021, the resistance began with over 600 marches, millions of women, men, and children in cities all across the United States demanding reproductive rights. In Atlanta, thousands of women gathered at Liberty Plaza across from the state capitol.
About a dozen women dressed as pregnant eggplants (called Operation Eggplant) pointed out the absence of male responsibility in every heartbeat bill is draconian, misogynistic, and woefully unfair. They want legislation to force men to take responsibility for the fetus and the same type of vigilante bounty hunters to find the men whether they are prepared to be a father or not.
SPEAKERS AT THE MARCH FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS IN ATLANTA
The event opened with two Native American women performing an indigenous blessing. Yonasda Lonewolf from Pine Ridge, South Dakota tells the crowd that over 20 thousand missing and murdered indigenous women cannot speak today. She also said that many indigenous women have been forcibly sterilized.
Next, Rabbis Cohn and Nemhauser conduct non-denominational prayers.
“Our leaders are stale, male, and pale. They don’t look like us, they don’t think like us, and they don’t legislate like us. …Reproductive justice work is healthcare work, it is liberation work, and abolition work. It is the work that speaks to power, and places the demand on power to take their filthy hands off our body,” Kimberlyn Carter, Executive Director, Represent Georgia Action Network, said.
In Georgia, we don’t have Medicaid expansion, half the counties don’t have an OB/GYN, and local and country planning and zoning commissioners are letting crisis pregnancy centers come into low-income communities. These centers are run by right-wing religious groups who oppose abortion. Georgia must flip some seats and vote more progressives into public office to get the Georgia women deserve.
At these so-called pregnancy crisis centers, women do not receive comprehensive, accurate, evidence-based clinical information about all their options. Their counseling is misleading or false, according to the AMA Journal of Ethics. Their website includes misinformation like the false claim that abortion is linked to breast cancer or mental health problems.
The majority of Americans support keeping abortions safe and legal and 70% of Georgians support access to abortions.
Georgia lawmakers seem to be in denial of these facts. In 2019, Rep. Ed Setzler said the opposition to his Heartbeat bill was going to go into the dark of night once it became law.
“We did not go away, I don’t like being shushed, I just get louder. Abortion restrictions harm Black, Latin X, indigenous, and trans people. It’s not just a cis gender issue – it harms everybody,” Staci Fox, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood SE, said. “Our doors are still open.”
Wula Dawson from Sister Song Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective talks about reproductive justice (RJ).
Dawson states that reproductive justice is based on 4 key tenants. 1. The right not to have children, the right to have access to abortion and contraception. 2 The right to have children. To address high rates of black maternal mortality and coercive sterilization of our people 3. The right to raise the children that we have in safe and sustainable communities. 4. The human rights of bodily autonomy, to be sovereign over our entire bodies no matter what.
“When politicians come for people who need an abortion, they come for you. They come for your body, your life, your family, your place in this world. Anti-Abortion laws open up the door for your every move to be watched and policed. Your every choice can be dictated and criminalized. When they come for us, they come for the South first,” Dawson said.
State Rep. Park Cannon talked about redistricting. The day after November 3 lawmakers will redraw the lines so “that elected officials who don’t believe in choice will be able to choose their constituents,” Cannon said.
Georgia Republicans have control over redistricting in the General Assembly since they are the majority party and have the power to create maps that add more conservative voters to a district and eliminate progressive voters.
The GOP plans to redraw those districts that have become more blue and diverse with Black, Asian, and Latino voters and replace those voters with more conservative voters. This includes district 6 represented by U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath and district 7 represented by Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux in the north Atlanta suburbs. Redistricting will affect laws covering reproductive justice and voting rights.
Tell Your Abortion Story
My name is Cazembe Jackson and I’m a black Southern queer, non-binary, trans man. In my junior year in college, I was raped by four men who didn’t go to my college. While they raped me, they kept saying that they were making me a real woman.
“I got pregnant from that gang rape and went into a deep depression. I left school and went home to Austin where I made a decision to have an abortion. I had to borrow $300 dollars from a payday loan which cost me $1,000 to pay back. Planned parenthood recognized that I needed help and called the Rape Crisis Center for me to start therapy. I told my abortion story because trans and non-binary people need to be represented in reproductive justice conversations,” Jackson said.
My name is Emily and I had an abortion 3 years ago while in my junior year of college. I was earning minimum wage and overwhelmed balancing school life, depression, and the stress of being a first-generation college student of Mexican immigrants. I was not ready to be a parent.
“My abortion was the best decision I’ve ever made. Thanks to my abortion I am the first in my family to graduate from college. I am thankful I don’t have to raise a child with my recent Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis,” Emily said.
Republican Rhetoric vs Women’s Reality
Why do privileged white Republicans think that regardless of your situation you should give up your dreams and be forced to give birth to a child you know you can’t financially or emotionally care for.
It is Republican lawmakers who force women to have a child and then make major cuts to poverty programs so you can’t take care of that child. They cut trillions of dollars from housing assistance, WIC, job training, supplemental nutrition assistance programs, temporary assistance for needy families, child nutrition, child care, federal college aid, and Medicaid, according to the House Committee on the Budget.
But have you noticed that when it comes to trillion-dollar tax cuts for the rich, or subsidies for corporations making billions, or the scam of “trickle-down economics”, they are first in line to sign on the dotted line to give out trillions to the rich who don’t need it.
In between the speeches the crowd enjoyed drumming, singing, and poetry.
Leng Leng Chancey, Executive Director of 9 to 5 speaks about intersectionality and the reality for our communities.
The Reproductive Justice (RJ ) movement was formed by a group of women of color to represent the underrepresented Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC).
RJ is a framework that guides us toward liberation and that lives on the intersection of immigrant rights, abortion access, racial and gender justice, disability justice, language justice, climate justice and so much more.
“We are standing on stolen land that was colonized. My ancestors were brought here to be indentured servants to build the railroad. We were never afforded the same democracy as those in power nor were black people who were brought here as slaves. BIPOC lives and voices are continually oppressed. It’s time for reparations. None of us are free until all of us are free,” Chancey said.
Kwajelyn Jackson, Executive Director, Feminist Women’s Health Center. A black-led independent abortion provider who is providing abortions right now.
Abortion is legal in Georgia because of numerous lawsuits that have it tied up in court.
We need you to fund abortions around this country and fund Access Reproductive Care – Southeast (ARC-SE) they are the ones connecting people to the care, making sure that people can travel from states hostile to states that will welcome them for care.
“These people in the state capital work for us. Let them know what we need from them because we can’t wait on them to grant us our dignity or define our futures for us. We are more powerful than the systems that try to convince us that we are powerless, Jackson said.
At the end of the speeches, the thousands gathered in Liberty Plaza moved to the street and marched to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Written and photos by Gloria Tatum