Fulton County commissioners reject resolution to fund abortion assistance

People walk through the streets during the March for Reproductive Justice on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021 in downtown Atlanta. The Fulton County Commission rejected a resolution that would have enabled Fulton to donate $300,000 to the nonprofit Access Reproductive Care Southeast, a group that helps people with abortion-related expenses, including travel costs. The City of Atlanta made a similar contribution last year. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

The Fulton County Commission has rejected a resolution to allocate money to the state’s only abortion fund. 

The measure sponsored by Commissioner Dana Barrett would have enabled Fulton County to donate $300,000 to the nonprofit Access Reproductive Care Southeast.

The group provides assistance with abortion-related expenses, including the cost of travel. 

In the more than a year since Georgia’s six-week abortion ban H.B. 481 took effect, thousands of Georgians have traveled out of state for abortion services.

Access Reproductive Care Southeast organizers say the group runs short of funds each month and refers patients to other sources of abortion assistance.    

If Fulton County commissioners had approved Barrett’s resolution, it would have matched a donation from the City of Atlanta last year, sponsored by Atlanta City Councilmember Liliana Bakhtiari.

Bakhtiari expressed disappointment after the commission vote Wednesday. 

“More people are going to lose access and people will die as a result of this. Banning abortion and defunding it does not stop abortion. It stops safe and accessible abortion. People will still continue to take their lives into their own hands when they are desperate,” Bakhtiari said. 

Georgia’s abortion ban took effect in 2022 following the United States Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Since then, an ACLU lawsuit challenging it has worked its way through the state’s legal system. 

Now, the Supreme Court of Georgia is expected to decide soon whether the six-week ban can remain in place.

“Before this ban, our state was already leading the country in maternal death, a rate three times higher for Black women,” said Desirrae Thomas, an organizer with the abortion-rights group Amplify Georgia Collaborative. “At the same time that our legislature is trying to force people to give birth, we are experiencing alarming healthcare shortages.” 

That same sentiment was echoed by other abortion rights supporters who spoke before the commission meeting.  

Speakers also included a handful of abortion rights opponents, who came to protest the Fulton County abortion-funding resolution.  

A similar resolution is also under consideration in DeKalb County. Commissioner Ted Terry introduced it last week.   

That resolution hasn’t come up for a vote yet.