Throughout the ACLU’s history, great strides have been made to protect women’s rights, in- cluding women’s suffrage, education, women entering the workforce, and most recently, the Me Too Movement. Despite this incredible progress, women still face discrimination and are forced to constantly defend challenges to their ability to make private decisions about reproductive health. Overall, women make just 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. Black women earn only 64 cents and Latinas earn only 54 cents for each dollar earned by white men.
Nationally, Georgia is among the worst states in terms of reproductive health. It has the highest maternal mortality rate in the country and in 2019, the Georgia legislature enacted one of the most restrictive anti-choice bills in the country. The ACLU of Georgia was the lead organization in striking down this six-week ban in court.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed even greater gender-oriented fissures in our society. Women, and particularly women of color, are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic — they are more likely to lose their jobs, more likely to work in essential jobs on the frontlines of the pandemic and more likely to struggle with school closures and the loss of childcare for their children. COVID-19 gives this work even more urgency.
In order to provide a comprehensive look at recent reproductive and women’s rights legislation in Georgia, we chose bills covering a variety of related issues, from the right to choose to increasing healthcare coverage for new mothers to preserving and expanding the rights of incarcerated people who are pregnant.
Which bills did we choose, and why?
To ensure a thorough review of Georgia’s repro- ductive justice and women’s rights bills, we scored eight bills dating back to 2012. Each legislator was scored on bills they voted on since being elect- ed (absences and excuses were not counted to- wards the score). Because the bills we chose were voted on throughout the years of 2012 to 2020, some legislators are scored on a different num- ber of bills because they were not present in the legislature when every bill scored was voted on or they were absent/excused from the vote — these nuances are reflected in the voters and scoring.