Atlanta Women’s Coalition: Fetal Pain Bill Detrimental to Minority/Poor Women

A controversial bill passed in Georgia’s state house, HB 954 also known as the fetal pain bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

Right now in Georgia, abortions are banned after 24 weeks.

The debate over the legislation is centered on whether or not the fetus can experience pain during this period of the pregnancy.

But a national women’s reproductive organization headquarter in Atlanta, says the legislation is not about protecting women but targeting women.

Loretta Ross is the national coordinator with the Atlanta based Sister Song.  The organization is comprised of women of color and they focus on reproductive justice issues.  One of the services they provide is to escort women who come to Georgia for an abortion.

Ross tells the story of a pregnant 14-year old girl who had been sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend

“The young girl was so young she was sucking her thumb so for three days I had to be with this thumb sucking child while she had an abortion at 24 weeks, I don’t these men understand the reality of what women go through and what girls go through and they’re not about protecting us, it’s about punishing us for sexual activities,” says Ross.

Those men according to Ross are the mostly male republican state assembly.

She says throughout the whole debate concerning the fetal pain bill, lawmakers purposely limited input from those that serve minority and underserved women.

“They don’t want to hear from opponents like me, they only want to let their side  and it’s really not a fair playing field so the women and the experts lined up to speak barely got a  hearing”

The bill includes severe criminal consequences for doctors if an abortion occurred after 20 weeks and the mother’s life was not in jeopardy.

Ross says that would criminalize providers.

“The doctor would hesitate to interfere for fear of criminal sanctions and so it’s really going to put women’s lives at risk and force the doctor to not follow appropriate medical care”

The bill’s language states providers that did perform an abortion after the 20 weeks would be charged with a felony.

The bill will now head to the Senate, which also majority Republican.

If passed, Loretta Ross says she doesn’t expect Governor Nathan Deal to oppose the Republican base by vetoing the measure.