Dec 8, 2021 - News

What overturning Roe v. Wade could mean for Georgia

Data: Myers Abortion Facility Database on OSF; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios
Data: Myers Abortion Facility Database on OSF; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

Abortion access could be under threat in Georgia if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Driving the news: The nation's high court heard oral arguments last week in a case involving a Mississippi law seeking to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

  • Mississippi's attorney general has asked justices to overturn the landmark 1973 case that established the constitutional right to an abortion.

The big picture: Without Roe, abortion laws and access would vary by state rather than through a nationwide precedent, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez reports.

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, the average American could have to travel around 125 miles to reach the nearest abortion provider, compared to the current average of 25 miles, according to the Myers Abortion Facility database.

  • In Georgia, that number could easily top 250 miles.

State of play: Georgia legislators in 2019 passed a law that bans abortions when a doctor can detect a so-called fetal heartbeat, which is around six weeks and when many people are unaware they are pregnant.

  • A federal judge in 2020 blocked the legislation from taking effect, and the state appealed the judge's ruling.
  • The court indicated it would wait until after the Supreme Court's decision to issue its ruling, the Associated Press reported.

What they're saying: “Georgia is a state that values life, and the governor is proud to champion and defend the LIFE Act,” Brian Kemp spokesperson Katie Byrd told the AP.

Without a legal precedent to follow, Georgia Republicans are exploring passing abortion restrictions similar to Texas during the 2022 legislative session, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The other side: If Roe is overturned, millions of people across large areas of the South and Midwest could be left without access to abortion, Lauren Frazier, director of communications for Planned Parenthood Southeast, told Axios.

  • Frazier said Planned Parenthood would have to shift its focus to directing patients to other states where abortion is still legal while providing its other family planning services.
  • “But the important thing to remember is that abortion is still safe, legal and available in Georgia, and we're doing everything in our power to make sure it stays that way,” she said.

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