Abortion-rights protesters at the steps of The Capitol on Sunday, June 26, 2022. (Natrice Miller / [email protected])

Andrea Young | Atlanta Journal-Constitution | September 2, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court and the gerrymandered Georgia General Assembly are out of step with most Georgians. A recent poll commissioned by the ACLU of Georgia found that the majority (52%) of likely Georgia voters disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade and roll back constitutional protections for a right to privacy that for the past 50 years protected the right of women and other people to make decisions about their own bodies.

In fact, Georgia voters overwhelmingly agree on privacy - nearly 90% believe in a right to privacy when it comes to making decisions about their bodies. Similarly, voters polled opposed criminal penalties for doctors accused of performing abortions outside the 6-week ban, or women who have them. The law passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019 establishes civil liability and criminal penalties for physicians who provide abortion care and subjects women to criminal investigation as their personal decisions about their bodies and private medical records can be scrutinized by district attorneys.

A plurality of voters support maintaining access to abortion through 20 weeks – the law prior to the imposition of the 6-week ban that went into effect in July. Forty percent of Georgia voters said that they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports a woman’s right to have an abortion.

The opposition to Georgia’s 6-week ban would likely be higher if voters understood the full impact of the law on the health and well-being of women of reproductive age. The poll revealed that most voters do not believe that physicians may be compelled to refuse standard medical care to women experiencing a miscarriage, or that women’s medical care will likely be impacted by a denial of common medications, cancer and mental health treatment. We are already seeing these effects as abortion bans take hold in other states.

Our state’s motto is “Wisdom, Justice and Moderation.” There is nothing wise, just or moderate about the extreme abortion ban law in Georgia – a law that passed by only a few votes in the Georgia House of Representatives.

The impact of this law will be far-reaching as women and the people who love them discover the many ways this law compromises quality health care. As I write, pregnant people in Georgia are being denied first trimester abortions - a procedure far safer than pregnancy.

Women in Georgia are being forced to remain pregnant – unless they can afford to travel out of state for the healthcare they need. This is a law that enables punishment and prosecution - another element not favored by Georgia voters.

Georgians - divided on so many issues– are united in their support for a right to privacy. They oppose government intervention into personal, private spaces. The political leaders who passed and promoted the abortion ban law are taking women backward.

Who is next?

Voters in the state of Georgia must remember in November to vote for candidates who share their values and who are committed to protecting their rights to make personal and private decisions for themselves.

Andrea Young is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.