Yesterday, SB 529, the so-called “OB/GYN Criminalization and Racial Discrimination Act,” died in the Rules Committee of the Georgia House of Representatives on the last day of Georgia’s legislative session.
A press release from SisterSong, SPARK and SisterLove, a coalition of three Georgia groups that led opposition to this and other bills, stated:
After more than three days of attempting to negotiate with the ultra conservative right to life lobby, the Speaker of the House David Ralston, was unable to convince them to support a more reasonable bill. The hard-line Republicans and moderate Republicans could not unite on the bill. This allowed the Democrats to filibuster. Essentially, it was the splintering that caused the bill’s turnaround in lacking unity.
As Jill Nelson notes in a piece for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the bill, which had earlier been passed by the Senate, would have outlawed abortion for reasons of gender selection and racial discrimination, and allowed women who are “coerced” to have an abortion to file charges against the abortion provider. The bill would have penalized doctors for third party actions. So a mother who tells her daughter, “Don’t get pregnant and bring a baby home,” could precipitate criminal charges against the doctor who provided an abortion. The bill was put forward despite the fact that there is no evidence of either coercion, or racial and sex selection abortion in Georgia.
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Opposition to this and other similar bills from organizations fighting for reproductive justice was fierce.
In a statement, the reproductive justice coalition said:
“As the three women of color led reproductive justice organizations in Georgia, SisterSong, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, and SisterLove, Inc. are thrilled that this bill never made it out of the House Rules Committee.”
After more than three months of intense lobbying, SisterSong, SPARK, and SisterLove, in coordination with allies, Feminist Women’s Health Center (GA) and Planned Parenthood Southeast, “were able to bombard the Speaker’s office with calls, emails, and faxes highlighting concerns with the bill posed for women of color and our doctors.”
“We truly raised the voices of women of color, and black women in particular, as the session ended, with national support from Civil Rights leaders and clergy”, stated Heidi Williamson, National Policy Coordinator for SisterSong. “Now we must do the work of empowering and educating our community on reproductive justice issues.”
They note, however, that while we won in Georgia, “this may be coming to your state next.”