Sponsors and Co-signers of the Reproductive Freedom Act outlined their support for the simultaneously introduced identical measures – SB 15 and HB 75 – during a Capitol press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
To watch the press conference video, click here.
News Accounts of Proposed Legislation:
Read more about the Georgia Supreme Court hearing here: Date set for oral arguments in case over Georgia’s abortion law – WABE
Prepared remarks used by speakers on behalf of the bill are as follows:
Representative Shea Roberts – HD 52
It is my distinct honor to stand with my House and Senate colleagues, representatives from the Amplify Georgia Collaborative, and so many of our constituents who have come to the People’s House today to bear witness to the Georgia Reproductive Freedom Act (RFA) which I’m proud to report was filed simultaneously this morning in the House and Senate.
The RFA is a comprehensive bill that not only repeals the restrictions imposed by HB 481 but also enshrines in Georgia law fundamental protections for reproductive freedom and expands access to abortion care for all Georgians.
We are bringing this legislation only two days after what would have been the 50th Anniversary of Roe v Wade. Even before it was overturned last year by the Dobbs decision, we knew Roe didn’t go far enough. Since 2005 Georgia politicians have passed 13 medically unnecessary and politically motivated abortion restrictions. Everything from required waiting periods to insurance restrictions to our near total abortion ban. So, it is time that we look beyond Roe and work towards a future where all Georgians can live with an abundance of freedom.
It is from that perspective the Amplify Georgia collaborative set out to create legislation which did just that, and it’s been an honor to work with Roula and Ukquomo and others to see this vision through. Because no matter our age, race, income, or where we live, we all want the rights and resources to make our own decisions about whether, when, and how we’ll build our families. And, we want to raise our families with dignity.
I am personally invested in this issue. I have been open since last year about my own abortion experience, sharing it publicly because I believe it’s my responsibility as an elected leader to call out my Republican colleagues who continue to pass legislation that restricts the freedom of at least half the state’s population.
My husband and I very much wanted to expand our family. And when the doctor told us our dream was no longer a reality and the pregnancy was incompatible with life, we were devastated. But after considering the higher risk to my body because of my age as well as my ability to continue caring for my other young children, I followed the advice of my doctors and terminated the pregnancy.
Now, under our current abortion ban, doctors are consulting with their attorneys before advising their patients. They are being forced to gauge when a pregnant patient is just close enough to death before administering life-saving care or be faced with potential prosecution. This is dangerous and it’s got to stop NOW!
Abortion care IS health-care and it should be treated as such.
A couple of weeks ago, there was an article in the paper where someone was quoted saying that we were likely just going to be playing defense this legislative session on the abortion issue. That couldn’t be further from the truth. A majority of people in Georgia and across the country have made it clear that they support abortion access. So, we are not going anywhere.
I know I personally will take my last breath fighting to make sure that my daughters and all Georgians have the same freedom I’ve enjoyed my entire life. But I’m even more proud that this legislation will grant them more than Roe – it will protect reproductive freedom and ensure everyone has access to the healthcare they need.
Senator Sally Harrell – SD 40
My colleagues across the aisle speak against laws, they think are government intrusions into personal lives.
These colleagues say the state should stay out of the personal decisions people make when it comes to (1) their money, (2) their religion, and (3) their businesses.
It is for this reason that I ask you:
- Is it the state’s job to read a woman’s medical records to determine if she intentionally caused her miscarriage, or if it happened naturally?
- Is it the state’s job to launch a criminal investigation against a doctor who performed an abortion to save a woman’s life early in her pregnancy — before her heart condition worsened and caused a heart attack? The government would be investigating, mind you, just in case the doctor was wrong, or didn’t wait long enough.
- Is it the state’s job to fund church-run pregnancy crisis centers that exist solely to convince women not to have an abortion?
I say no.
I’ll tell you what IS the state’s job — caring for children who have no one else to care for them. And we are failing at this miserably.
I was astounded to learn the other day that foster care kids who are discharged from the hospital sometimes are placed in motels of the worst circumstances. These aren’t nice places where a child can recover from an overdose, a suicide attempt, an illness or injury.
These are the kind of rooms you can get for $20 a night, because that’s what we have decided these kids are worth. Georgia has chosen to abandon these vulnerable children.
As I heard in budget meetings last week, the state has to weigh many demands on the budget dollars it has left.
But HB 481 removed this very choice for our citizens, who now must go through with a pregnancy regardless of their financial circumstances, personal desires, and lack of support. 70% of Georgians support safe and complete access to abortion. The majority is clear. Crystal clear.
Yet, anti-abortion advocates argue they have the moral high ground. These advocates want to tell us what is true and false, not science, and certainly not someone’s differing belief on the matter.
Because of HB 481, we are forcing people to subscribe to one particular religious view on when life begins, and the circumstances under which, if ever, an abortion would be morally acceptable.
It is not the government’s job to practice religion. It is the government’s job to protect Georgians from being over-supervised, and under supported by our government. It is our government’s job to protect our constituents’ right to privacy, dignity, and personal belief. It is the government’s job to ensure Georgians have the right to safe and timely reproductive healthcare, including the personal liberty to make the difficult and private choice of abortion.
Representative Kim Schofield – HD 63
I proudly stand with my colleagues to support the Reproductive Freedom Act. Standing behind this bill is about winning reproductive freedom for everybody in Georgia, no matter where you live or how much you make. Georgia is trying to return us to the old status quo. But, let’s be clear – Roe didn’t meet everybody’s needs equally. Our work was unfinished; but, Georgia we intend to finish it.
I’m someone who’s had an abortion, not because of a medical situation or trauma. It was a choice – my choice – about my body and my life. I didn’t ask the government what I should do. I had a safe, respectful, procedure which provided me with dignity and support of my decision.
I want that same experience for those who decide to have an abortion based on their choice and decision!
I support the Reproductive Freedom Act.
We are not done! We are bringing the fight to you Georgia.
Senator Nabilah Islam – SD Seven
This past Sunday we should have celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision.
Instead, we have to be out here fighting the same fight of our mothers and grandmothers— for the right to control our own bodies.
We should be moving forward and that is what the Reproductive Freedom Act is about.
Moving women forward.
This is why this bill so important and I am proud to support the Reproductive Freedom Act. This bill will guarantee every woman the right to choose what she can do with her body. And, it will repeal draconian and medically unjustified restrictions on abortions.
We didn’t ask for this fight.
We didn’t want this fight.
But we will finish this fight! We are in this for the long haul.
Let’s get this done.
House Minority Leader James Beverly – HD 143
Everybody—whoever they are or wherever they’re from—must have the freedom to make their own decisions about their bodies, lives, and futures.
Abortion should be legal and accessible. Legislators and community leaders will ensure that abortion will remain safe and available post-Roe.
Georgia Republicans have pulled out all the stops to threaten reproductive freedom, and since the conservative court threw out nearly 50 years of precedent, their efforts will only get more egregious. Most Georgians oppose overturning Roe v. Wade and this is far-right extremism which Republicans are pushing. That is because this decision is not only anti-democratic, but will set the state back decades and might cause businesses to leave the state to protect their employees’ rights. Attacks on reproductive freedom do not represent the values of the overwhelming majority of people in this country.
The people hurt most by attacks on reproductive freedom are those who already face
barriers to accessing abortion care—including women; Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; those working to make ends meet; the LGBTQ+ community; immigrants; young people; those living in rural communities; and people with disabilities.
Georgia House Democrats are announcing legislation to guarantee Georgians rights to paid family leave, healthcare coverage, and access to abortion care. And Georgia House Democrats are working hard to take the Majority. Democrats picked up three seats this year in the House and are knocking on the door of the majority. But we cannot wait until the next election cycle. We are taking action TODAY to ensure abortion remains safe and accessible to Georgians.
Senator Jason Esteves – SD 6
I am honored and proud to be here as a husband, as a father, as a man who believes in freedom, equality, and the fundamental right to access reproductive healthcare. In 50 years, these basic principles have never been more at risk than they are right now in Georgia, undermined by laws like HB 481. That is why I stand here with my colleagues to proudly introduce the Reproductive Freedom Act.
My wife is a nurse practitioner and a board member of Planned Parenthood Southeast. She has seen firsthand how medically unnecessary abortion restrictions affect health care outcomes in Georgia. We have seen providers like OBGYN and family practice doctors leave the state, we’ve also seen them refuse to come to Georgia in the first place. I hear this from my constituents: “how can I do my job, how can I get the training I need, if I’m afraid I might go to jail?”
I represent Atlanta and Cobb County—one of the most affluent Senate districts in this state. If health care providers are fleeing my own district, then imagine the impact in rural counties, where hospitals are closing because Republican leaders won’t even expand Medicaid. In fact, 82 counties, more than half of the counties in Georgia, need an OBGYN. This is one of the reasons we live in the state with the worst maternal mortality rate in the country.
That’s why the Reproductive Freedom Act is important. We need to enshrine fundamental protections for reproductive freedom in Georgia law. It is no secret that Georgia sets the standard in many respects, particularly in the South. And the reality is that when Georgia unnecessarily restricted abortions, we not only impacted individuals in Georgia, we also impacted people across the Southeast who traveled here for their reproductive health care needs. Around 20% of women who had an abortion in Georgia last year came from out-of-state, according to a recent CDC survey.
Georgia cannot continue to be a leader in the region, and in the nation, if we as a state do not prioritize the wellbeing of our citizens, the future of our health care system. We must demand better and stop politicians from interfering with most private, intimate family decisions that individuals and providers make every day.
I am proud to co-sponsor the Reproductive Freedom Act as one of my very first actions in the Georgia Senate. My constituents didn’t just elect me to play defense, and I am proud to offer to all Georgians a bold vision to expands access to reproductive healthcare for all.