Yes, abortion is still legal in Georgia.
The landscape for accessing abortion in Georgia is difficult. Because of legal barriers in place in Georgia, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get an abortion here. However, the practice is still legal.
With the court’s recent placement of Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court will be weighed in a conservative supermajority, abortion rights as well as access to healthcare more broadly will be under attack.
TYPES OF ABORTION
An abortion is a procedure that terminates a pregnancy. There are three types of abortions that are typically performed in the United States: 1) medical abortion; 2) surgical abortion; and 3) induction of labor abortion. Abortion is often times a medical procedure. Though, sometimes it is simply taking medication and waiting for the abortion to occur. In those instances, it happens much like a miscarriage. Overall, earlier abortions are 10 to 15 times safer than childbirth. Fewer than two percent of abortions occur at 21 weeks and it is extremely rare for an abortion to occur after 26 weeks.
A medical abortion looks like a miscarriage. It involves the pregnant person taking two different “abortion pills,” first taking mifepristone. Usually it is taken within the care of a doctor, nurse, or health care provider. This medication stops the pregnancy from continuing to grow. The second medication is misoprostol. It is taken within 48 hours of the first medication and is usually taken at home. Though with emergency services accessible. Health care providers recommend that the medication is taken by the patient in a safe and comforting environment.
All three forms of surgical abortion, D&A, D&C, and D&E.
It is important to note that surgical abortion is generally a safe procedure. However, it involves a surgery and with it comes the risks traditionally associated with surgeries.
Vacuum aspiration is primarily performed on pregnant people within their first trimester.
There are two methods of vacuum aspiration (also called suction aspiration):
Manual vacuum. This procedure can be used around 5 to 12 weeks after the last menstrual period (early first trimester). It involves the use of a specially designed syringe to apply suction. This method is not available everywhere. But it may be more available than machine aspiration in some geographic areas.
Machine vacuum. This procedure is a common method used in the first 5 to 12 weeks (first trimester) of pregnancy. Machine vacuum aspiration involves the use of a thin tube (cannula) that is attached by tubing to a bottle and a pump, which provides a gentle vacuum. The cannula is passed into the uterus, the pump is turned on, and the tissue is gently removed from the uterus.
Dilation and curettage is a form of abortion that removes the fetal tissue from inside the uterus. It is a surgical process and the pregnant person may experience cramps and irregular bleeding after the surgery, similar to the symptoms of a period.
Dilation & Evacuation abortions occur during the 2nd trimester. For pregnancies that are 14 weeks or greater. It is a safe form of abortion and can be done on an outpatient basis.
INDUCTION OF LABOR ABORTION
Labor is induced. In this type of abortion, the pregnant person gets an intact fetus. They will feel all the traditional signs of induced labor-- i.e., labor pain, prostaglandin side effects.
This type of abortion is often choosen for cultural reasons, if the pregnant party and their partner want an intact fetus for funeral or for cultural reasons.
IS ABORTION STILL LEGAL IN GEORGIA
Yes, technically abortion is still legal in every state in the United States. Roe v. Wade is still the law. However, the courts have found that barriers put in place to prevent individuals from getting abortions [waiting periods, the requirement that the pregnant person have an ultrasound before they can move forward with an abortion, physician admittance requirements] are all legal as long as the requirements do not constitute an “undue burden.” Planned Parenthood v. Casey
POLITICAL CLIMATE SURROUNDING ABORTION IN GEORGIA/ LANDSCAPE
The landscape in Georgia surrounding the issue of abortion is hostile.
Governor Kemp signed a “fetal heartbeat” bill into law in Georgia. This law would ban abortion as early as six weeks, a time when many pregnant people still do not know they are pregnant. The “fetal heartbeat” law has exceptions for rape or incest but the law, if we are following stare decisis or the precedent established by the court, is unconstitutional. That has not stopped anti choice organizations and “activists” from trying to bring an anti-choice bill before the conservative Supreme Court.
SOME POTENTIAL CHALLENGES TO ACCESSING ABORTION IN GEORGIA
SISTERSONG V. KEMP
SisterSong v. Kemp is a court case currently before the courts in Georgia. The case with plaintiffs representing abortion providers, health care practitioners, their patients, and organizations that advocate for reproductive justice, are suing the Governor for passage of HB 481 which bans “practically all abortions” in the state of Georgia. The ban would prohibit abortions after six weeks while Roe v. Wade guaranteed the right to an abortion until the time of viability (when the fetus could survive on its own absent its host i.e., the pregnant person) which usually occurs around the 24-28 week mark. This bill is dangerous because if it were to go into effect, it would “force women to continue their pregnancies against their will, exposing many to serious health risks – such as heart attacks, stroke, or kidney damage –that they will be powerless to address, threaten OB/GYNs and other healthcare professionals with criminal penalties for providing standard-of-care treatments if a treatment poses any risk to an embryo, and
interfere with standard-of-care treatment which will drive doctors out of Georgia which will create a devastating impact on women’s access to healthcare especially for low-income, rural, women of color – all of whom are already least able to access medical care.” The outcome of this case could determine whether abortion is still legal and accesible to Georgians.
AMY CONEY BARRETT’S RECENT CONFIRMATION TO THE SUPREME COURT
Before RBG died, the court was already weighed in a conservative majority, with five conserative members and four liberal members of the bench. However, after her passing, Trump, as President, got to choose a replacement and pointed to Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett, a person who was appointed to the federal court in 2017 by Trump, is a known conservative person and has been critical of abortion in the past. Her nomination and confirmation to the court has basically cemented the court in a conservative supermajority. With many anti choice organizations and “activists” wanting to bring a case before the court to invalidate Roe v. Wade, the future of abortion rights jurisprudence in this country swings in the balance.