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MY BODY, MY VOICE: Georgia’s returning to the dark ages is not a bright move

The move means women, LGBTQT folks, and people of color end up on the chopping block

Picture this: The day was May 7, 2019, minutes before Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 481, Georgia’s six-week abortion ban, into law. The media ran images of Rep. Ed Setzler, who sponsored the bill, celebrating his accomplishment by fist bumping with Sen. Bruce Thomson. That’s how the last legislative session ended — with two men celebrating their victory after stripping Georgia women of their constitutional rights.

But that’s not how the last legislative session started. No, the last legislative session began with a bipartisan effort to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution, which would provide equal legal rights to all Americans regardless of their sex. It states simply, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Pretty straightforward. But it still isn’t the law of the land. You see, the U.S. Congress first passed the ERA in the 1970s, but it didn’t get enough support from states at the time. Thirty-eight states need to approve the amendment in order for it to be added to the U.S. Constitution. Fast forward nearly 50 years, and Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the ERA in 2018. Just one state away! And that’s where Georgia came in. With bipartisan support and two separate resolutions urging the state to sign on, things looked promising. 

But then something predictable happened: One by one, Republicans began pulling their support for equal rights between the sexes. They alleged that if you gave women equal rights under the law, it would effectively become “an abortion rights bill.” That assertion is a leap, even for anti-abortion extremists, but one can deduce they are afraid that if women have equal rights under the law, it may be within women’s rights to control their own bodies and futures, just like men can. What a thought. No wonder they reversed course and decided that “equality of rights under the law” was too “sinister” for Georgians. 

And reverse course they did. A complete 180. Instead of ratifying women’s rights, they decided to attack them instead. Sen. Renee Unterman, who initially introduced one of the resolutions to ratify the ERA, later carried the six-week abortion ban in the Senate. And ultimately, we ended session with the above-described smug fist bump, and onlookers who began the 2019 legislative session with an optimistic outlook were left with a bad case of legislative whiplash. 

Which brings us to today. The 2020 legislative session kicked off on Monday, January 13, and it began just as our most menacing legislation often does: under the cover of darkness. Just as lawmakers, their families, lobbyists, and citizens gathered ’round to hear Gov. Brian Kemp speak, the power went out (an appropriate introduction, if you ask me). But eventually, power was restored, and the Gold Dome was again abuzz with people speculating what this year’s session has in store. 

This is an election year, so many folks — including Brian Kemp — are predicting a relatively uneventful three months so that lawmakers can end the session quickly and quietly and get back to campaigning. However, those same lawmakers will also be vying for voters’ attention and looking for creative ways to get their names in the papers. In Georgia, that often means that women, LGBTQ+ folks, and people of color end up on the chopping block. 

There are a few pieces of legislation that are already in the works or working their way through the rumor mill. The legislative committee studying Georgia’s maternal mortality rates (which are the highest in the country) has recommended that legislators extend Medicaid coverage for low-income mothers to one year following birth. This would be a big improvement (and is something Rep. Renitta Shannon introduced last year)  but Georgia has repeatedly refused to expand Medicaid — regardless of how many lives it would save — so I’m not holding my breath. 

There is also speculation that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) will rear its ugly head again, buried within a foster care reform bill. For those who aren’t familiar with RFRA, it was expanded in 2014 to give businesses and government agencies license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on the basis of religion. A similar bill was introduced in Georgia back in 2016, received overwhelming opposition from Georgia citizens and the business community, and was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal. With Brian Kemp in the Governor’s mansion, we can’t count on that veto anymore. 

Perhaps most notable are the sweeping budget cuts requested by Gov. Kemp following recent tax cuts. Kemp has asked lawmakers to reduce spending by 4 percent this year and 6 percent next year to make up for the fact that tax collections have lagged since lawmakers cut the top income tax rate from 6 percent to 5.75 percent, thereby reducing state revenues by $450 million per year. Meanwhile, the law outlining the initial tax cuts also allows the state to pass yet another tax cut this session, something the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) warns would be “a real fiscal crisis for the state.” But such cuts could amount to more than a fiscal crisis — they could also be a PR crisis for lawmakers. According to a new poll from GBPI, 78.3 percent of Georgians oppose or strongly oppose budget cuts if they touch on public safety, health care, and education, and 68.1 percent oppose cuts that involve layoffs. Each of which is a very real probability. Public services are almost always the first thing to go to accommodate tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. It’s not all bad, though — there is at least one line item in the state budget that could be cut to save money and improve people’s lives. Georgia could stop funding fake women’s health clinics, which exist for the sole purpose of misleading women about their reproductive healthcare options to block them from accessing abortions. According to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health, 16 of these clinics have received or will receive at least $6.7 million in state funds before June 2020. Just think of what we could do with an extra $6.7 million if we weren’t using it to pay con artists parading around in scrubs to lie to Georgia women. 

Last but not least, the so-called “trigger bill” so fiercely debated during the last legislative session is still in play this session. The explicit goal of this bill is to immediately ban all abortions in the state if and when Roe v. Wade is overturned … and overturning Roe is the explicit goal of Georgia’s six-week abortion ban and every other abortion ban passed last year. Make no mistake: These anti-abortion groups and lawmakers will not be satisfied until abortion is outlawed outright, and they see this as their opportunity. 

So when people say, “Oh don’t worry — it’ll be a quiet session!” I think about the last session and every session before that. I also think about the recent reassurances we heard when Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to the U.S. Senate. Folks said, “She’s a woman! This is Kemp’s attempt to moderate! She’s a business woman, not an extremist!” In her first week in office, Loeffler cosponsored three anti-abortion bills. Not only is she an anti-abortion extremist, she is one of the most industrious we’ve ever seen, and she fits right in with our state lawmakers and their rabid urge to target women, LGBTQ+ folks, and people of color. So I am bracing myself for an ugly legislative session, just like I do every year. I suggest you do the same. — CL—

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  string(6673) "Back in February, Senator Amy Klobuchar appeared on the daytime television show “The View” and was asked whether or not she thinks “there’s room for pro-life Democrats to vote for her.” Klobuchar, who describes herself as “pro choice” and is an advocate for reproductive rights and health, responded by saying that the Democratic Party is a “big tent party, and there are pro-life Democrats, and they are part of our party … I think we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out … and that includes independents and moderate Republicans.”

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First, it’s probably helpful to define what a litmus test actually is. According to Merriam-Webster, literally, a litmus test determines acidity or alkalinity. Figuratively, it describes any single factor that establishes the true character of something or causes it to be assigned to one category or another. Now back to the question at hand: Should reproductive rights — specifically, abortion rights — be a litmus test for candidates? The answer is a resounding YES. Certain positions — including being anti-abortion — are corrosive to our health, safety, freedom, and our very lives. There is nothing wrong with looking critically at a candidate’s platform and figuring out whether your future is at stake based on their position. If your bodily autonomy isn’t a worthwhile litmus test, I don’t know what is.

If there was ever any doubt, the past year has made it all too clear just how important this litmus test can be. With Trump in office and Republican lawmakers in a race to see who can come up with the most regressive policies possible, the impulse to embrace “pro-life” Democrats is having real consequences around the country. As Rewire.News reported last month, “Democrats in the Louisiana legislature have made it possible for Republicans to push through a range of anti-choice laws; Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) last year signed a near-total abortion ban. Anti-choice Democrats in Rhode Island’s legislature for years stalled pro-choice legislation. In New Mexico’s legislature last year, a group of Democrats sided with Republicans to defeat a bill that would have eliminated a pre-Roe ban on abortion. And just this month, Democrats in Florida’s House refused to take a stand against anti-choice legislation that could open the door to a cascade of restrictions.” We have even seen the effects here in Georgia. Last year’s six-week abortion ban passed by just two votes in the House, one of which was a Democrat. The urge to invite out-of-touch, anti-abortion lawmakers into this “big tent” has made it possible for sweeping abortion restrictions and outright bans to be enacted in Georgia and across the country, and it has blocked progressive legislation that would have restored or expanded access to health care and reproductive rights. 

Beyond so-called “pro-life” Democrats, Klobuchar specifically referenced independents and moderate Republicans, saying “we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out” when it comes to reproductive rights. That line struck me because the fact is, we already are! The persistent myth that independents and moderate Republicans are wholly anti-abortion seems to be at the root of many of these conversations, as though abortion rights is a major debate Americans are having. The fact is, most Americans, 77 percent to be exact, want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade — and that number includes a majority of independents and even a majority of Trump voters. The politicization of health care (because yes, abortion is health care) is being perpetuated by politicians and a very small (but vocal) minority of anti-abortion groups and individuals. Meanwhile, candidates are pandering to a select few on the fringes in an effort to solicit a handful of votes, thereby alienating the vast majority of Americans. Politicians like Klobuchar can keep talking about being a “big tent party,” but as it turns out, they’re the only ones who want to come to this circus.

Although most Democrats won’t call themselves “pro-life” outright, here in the South I often hear lawmakers (and even some Planned Parenthood supporters) say things like, “I am pro-choice and pro-life,” meaning that they support other people’s right to make their own reproductive health care decision, but they wouldn’t have an abortion themselves. I am always struck by what a condescending and self-aggrandizing statement that is. When asked about your stance on reproductive rights, you either support them or you don’t. Your own theoretical reproductive choices are irrelevant and serve no purpose other than to make yourself feel morally superior to the one in four women in this country who will have an abortion in their lifetime. And actually, saying you’re either “pro-choice” or “pro-life” is becoming antiquated anyway. Many people don’t identify as either label anymore. These phrases have become so politicized and loaded that many people opt out altogether. So it’s pretty obvious to most folks that when you say you’re “pro-choice” and “pro-life” you’re just trying to have your stale cake and eat it too.  

Ultimately, the idea of a “pro-life Democrat,” “pro-life Republican,” or “pro-life independent” misses the point entirely. I don’t actually care what reproductive choices a lawmaker would make for themselves. The same goes for voters. I respect each person’s decision to start or expand their family, pursue adoption, or terminate a pregnancy. You can call yourself “pro-life” all you want (although I really wish you wouldn’t — it’s so tacky), but the bottom line is you shouldn’t be dictating other people’s most personal, private health-care decisions, and our lawmakers shouldn’t be either. So when it comes to whether or not we should allow anti-abortion lawmakers into the party tent, as my friend Catherine always says, “Flaps down.” —CL—

Elections begin this month! Now is the time to make sure you’re registered to vote. Check your registration here. Register online or download a voter registration application here.

Want to know where the 2020 hopefuls stand on sexual and reproductive health and Rights? Visit www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/presidential-candidate-profiles to find out."
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It’s a question that all of the presidential candidates have been asked in one way or another, and it got me thinking about another question I often hear: Should reproductive rights be a “litmus test” for presidential hopefuls — or for any lawmaker, for that matter? 

First, it’s probably helpful to define what a litmus test actually is. According to Merriam-Webster, literally, a litmus test determines acidity or alkalinity. Figuratively, it describes any single factor that establishes the true character of something or causes it to be assigned to one category or another. Now back to the question at hand: Should reproductive rights — specifically, abortion rights — be a litmus test for candidates? The answer is a resounding YES. Certain positions — including being anti-abortion — are corrosive to our health, safety, freedom, and our very lives. There is nothing wrong with looking critically at a candidate’s platform and figuring out whether your future is at stake based on their position. If your bodily autonomy isn’t a worthwhile litmus test, I don’t know what is.

If there was ever any doubt, the past year has made it all too clear just how important this litmus test can be. With Trump in office and Republican lawmakers in a race to see who can come up with the most regressive policies possible, the impulse to embrace “pro-life” Democrats is having real consequences around the country. As Rewire.News reported last month, “Democrats in the Louisiana legislature have made it possible for Republicans to push through a range of anti-choice laws; Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) last year signed a near-total abortion ban. Anti-choice Democrats in Rhode Island’s legislature for years stalled pro-choice legislation. In New Mexico’s legislature last year, a group of Democrats sided with Republicans to defeat a bill that would have eliminated a pre-Roe ban on abortion. And just this month, Democrats in Florida’s House refused to take a stand against anti-choice legislation that could open the door to a cascade of restrictions.” We have even seen the effects here in Georgia. Last year’s six-week abortion ban passed by just two votes in the House, one of which was a Democrat. The urge to invite out-of-touch, anti-abortion lawmakers into this “big tent” has made it possible for sweeping abortion restrictions and outright bans to be enacted in Georgia and across the country, and it has blocked progressive legislation that would have restored or expanded access to health care and reproductive rights. 

Beyond so-called “pro-life” Democrats, Klobuchar specifically referenced independents and moderate Republicans, saying “we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out” when it comes to reproductive rights. That line struck me because the fact is, we already are! The persistent myth that independents and moderate Republicans are wholly anti-abortion seems to be at the root of many of these conversations, as though abortion rights is a major debate Americans are having. The fact is, most Americans, 77 percent to be exact, want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade — and that number includes a majority of independents and even a majority of Trump voters. The politicization of health care (because yes, abortion is health care) is being perpetuated by politicians and a very small (but vocal) minority of anti-abortion groups and individuals. Meanwhile, candidates are pandering to a select few on the fringes in an effort to solicit a handful of votes, thereby alienating the vast majority of Americans. Politicians like Klobuchar can keep talking about being a “big tent party,” but as it turns out, they’re the only ones who want to come to this circus.

Although most Democrats won’t call themselves “pro-life” outright, here in the South I often hear lawmakers (and even some Planned Parenthood supporters) say things like, “I am pro-choice and pro-life,” meaning that they support other people’s right to make their own reproductive health care decision, but they wouldn’t have an abortion themselves. I am always struck by what a condescending and self-aggrandizing statement that is. When asked about your stance on reproductive rights, you either support them or you don’t. Your own theoretical reproductive choices are irrelevant and serve no purpose other than to make yourself feel morally superior to the one in four women in this country who will have an abortion in their lifetime. And actually, saying you’re either “pro-choice” or “pro-life” is becoming antiquated anyway. Many people don’t identify as either label anymore. These phrases have become so politicized and loaded that many people opt out altogether. So it’s pretty obvious to most folks that when you say you’re “pro-choice” and “pro-life” you’re just trying to have your stale cake and eat it too.  

Ultimately, the idea of a “pro-life Democrat,” “pro-life Republican,” or “pro-life independent” misses the point entirely. I don’t actually care what reproductive choices a lawmaker would make for themselves. The same goes for voters. I respect each person’s decision to start or expand their family, pursue adoption, or terminate a pregnancy. You can call yourself “pro-life” all you want (although I really wish you wouldn’t — it’s so tacky), but the bottom line is you shouldn’t be dictating other people’s most personal, private health-care decisions, and our lawmakers shouldn’t be either. So when it comes to whether or not we should allow anti-abortion lawmakers into the party tent, as my friend Catherine always says, “Flaps down.” __—CL—__

''Elections begin this month! Now is the time to make sure you’re registered to vote. Check your registration [https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do|here]. Register online or download a voter registration application [https://sos.ga.gov/index.php/Elections/register_to_vote|here].''

''Want to know where the 2020 hopefuls stand on sexual and reproductive health and Rights? Visit [http://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/presidential-candidate-profiles|www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/presidential-candidate-profiles] to find out.''"
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  string(7313) " MY BODY Cropped Web  2020-03-02T17:59:42+00:00 MY_BODY_cropped_web.jpg    mybodymyvoice mbmv A litmus test for presidential hopefuls 29572  2020-03-02T17:52:46+00:00 MY BODY, MY VOICE: We don’t need a big tent to accommodate this ‘pro-life’ circus jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Barbara Ann Luttrell  2020-03-02T17:52:46+00:00  Back in February, Senator Amy Klobuchar appeared on the daytime television show “The View” and was asked whether or not she thinks “there’s room for pro-life Democrats to vote for her.” Klobuchar, who describes herself as “pro choice” and is an advocate for reproductive rights and health, responded by saying that the Democratic Party is a “big tent party, and there are pro-life Democrats, and they are part of our party … I think we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out … and that includes independents and moderate Republicans.”

It’s a question that all of the presidential candidates have been asked in one way or another, and it got me thinking about another question I often hear: Should reproductive rights be a “litmus test” for presidential hopefuls — or for any lawmaker, for that matter? 

First, it’s probably helpful to define what a litmus test actually is. According to Merriam-Webster, literally, a litmus test determines acidity or alkalinity. Figuratively, it describes any single factor that establishes the true character of something or causes it to be assigned to one category or another. Now back to the question at hand: Should reproductive rights — specifically, abortion rights — be a litmus test for candidates? The answer is a resounding YES. Certain positions — including being anti-abortion — are corrosive to our health, safety, freedom, and our very lives. There is nothing wrong with looking critically at a candidate’s platform and figuring out whether your future is at stake based on their position. If your bodily autonomy isn’t a worthwhile litmus test, I don’t know what is.

If there was ever any doubt, the past year has made it all too clear just how important this litmus test can be. With Trump in office and Republican lawmakers in a race to see who can come up with the most regressive policies possible, the impulse to embrace “pro-life” Democrats is having real consequences around the country. As Rewire.News reported last month, “Democrats in the Louisiana legislature have made it possible for Republicans to push through a range of anti-choice laws; Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) last year signed a near-total abortion ban. Anti-choice Democrats in Rhode Island’s legislature for years stalled pro-choice legislation. In New Mexico’s legislature last year, a group of Democrats sided with Republicans to defeat a bill that would have eliminated a pre-Roe ban on abortion. And just this month, Democrats in Florida’s House refused to take a stand against anti-choice legislation that could open the door to a cascade of restrictions.” We have even seen the effects here in Georgia. Last year’s six-week abortion ban passed by just two votes in the House, one of which was a Democrat. The urge to invite out-of-touch, anti-abortion lawmakers into this “big tent” has made it possible for sweeping abortion restrictions and outright bans to be enacted in Georgia and across the country, and it has blocked progressive legislation that would have restored or expanded access to health care and reproductive rights. 

Beyond so-called “pro-life” Democrats, Klobuchar specifically referenced independents and moderate Republicans, saying “we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out” when it comes to reproductive rights. That line struck me because the fact is, we already are! The persistent myth that independents and moderate Republicans are wholly anti-abortion seems to be at the root of many of these conversations, as though abortion rights is a major debate Americans are having. The fact is, most Americans, 77 percent to be exact, want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade — and that number includes a majority of independents and even a majority of Trump voters. The politicization of health care (because yes, abortion is health care) is being perpetuated by politicians and a very small (but vocal) minority of anti-abortion groups and individuals. Meanwhile, candidates are pandering to a select few on the fringes in an effort to solicit a handful of votes, thereby alienating the vast majority of Americans. Politicians like Klobuchar can keep talking about being a “big tent party,” but as it turns out, they’re the only ones who want to come to this circus.

Although most Democrats won’t call themselves “pro-life” outright, here in the South I often hear lawmakers (and even some Planned Parenthood supporters) say things like, “I am pro-choice and pro-life,” meaning that they support other people’s right to make their own reproductive health care decision, but they wouldn’t have an abortion themselves. I am always struck by what a condescending and self-aggrandizing statement that is. When asked about your stance on reproductive rights, you either support them or you don’t. Your own theoretical reproductive choices are irrelevant and serve no purpose other than to make yourself feel morally superior to the one in four women in this country who will have an abortion in their lifetime. And actually, saying you’re either “pro-choice” or “pro-life” is becoming antiquated anyway. Many people don’t identify as either label anymore. These phrases have become so politicized and loaded that many people opt out altogether. So it’s pretty obvious to most folks that when you say you’re “pro-choice” and “pro-life” you’re just trying to have your stale cake and eat it too.  

Ultimately, the idea of a “pro-life Democrat,” “pro-life Republican,” or “pro-life independent” misses the point entirely. I don’t actually care what reproductive choices a lawmaker would make for themselves. The same goes for voters. I respect each person’s decision to start or expand their family, pursue adoption, or terminate a pregnancy. You can call yourself “pro-life” all you want (although I really wish you wouldn’t — it’s so tacky), but the bottom line is you shouldn’t be dictating other people’s most personal, private health-care decisions, and our lawmakers shouldn’t be either. So when it comes to whether or not we should allow anti-abortion lawmakers into the party tent, as my friend Catherine always says, “Flaps down.” —CL—

Elections begin this month! Now is the time to make sure you’re registered to vote. Check your registration here. Register online or download a voter registration application here.

Want to know where the 2020 hopefuls stand on sexual and reproductive health and Rights? Visit www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/presidential-candidate-profiles to find out.    Barbara Ann Luttrell SUPPORTING THE CAUSE: Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar flanked by Planned Parenthood supporters in Atlanta.  0,0,18    mybodymyvoice MBMV                             MY BODY, MY VOICE: We don’t need a big tent to accommodate this ‘pro-life’ circus "
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Monday March 2, 2020 12:52 pm EST
A litmus test for presidential hopefuls | more...
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  string(5794) "In early December, Governor Brian Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to succeed U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, who is retiring at the end of 2019 due to health concerns. Governor Kemp was proud to point out that this appointment makes Loeffler “Georgia’s first female Senator in nearly 100 years.” He went on, “But, more importantly, I’m excited to appoint a lifelong Republican who shares our conservative values and vision for a safer, stronger Georgia.” And there’s the rub. 

Turns out, being a woman doesn’t make you an advocate for women. Loeffler is a perfect example. In her acceptance remarks, Loeffler said, “Contrary to what you might see in the media, not every strong American woman is a liberal. Many of us are conservative and proud of it.” She went on to assert that — in addition to being “pro-Second Amendment, pro-military, pro-wall, and pro-Trump” — she is also strongly anti-choice and would support a federal ban on abortion. 

Despite that, anti-abortion groups have questioned Loeffler’s conservative bona fides and tried to tie her to Planned Parenthood. Loeffler is co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, Atlanta’s professional women’s basketball team, and the connection seems to stem from a WNBA promotion in which a portion of ticket sales was donated to six nonprofit causes, including Planned Parenthood. To clarify: Kelly Loeffler is not an ally of Planned Parenthood and she is no champion for women’s rights. 

In her own words, she will “make no apologies for her conservative values and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.” The same conservative judges who are poised to gut Roe v. Wade and turn back the clock on reproductive rights. 

Women waging the war against women’s rights is nothing new here in Georgia. You may remember last spring, when State Senator Renee Unterman sponsored Georgia’s six-week abortion ban in the Senate. The morning the bill passed, Unterman posted a telling photo of herself, propped up in front of the 33 male, Republican colleagues who helped her pass the bill. Unterman is in the foreground of the photo with her closest male colleagues at least six feet away. Drowning in a sea of distant blue and gray suits, Unterman looks like she is in the proverbial mushpot — a position befitting of the token woman leading the charge against reproductive rights. 

This tradition of women working against our own best interests goes far beyond Sen. Unterman and Kelly Loeffler. In fact, in the early 1900s, many of the people who led the movement against women’s suffrage were women. The leading organization in the anti-suffrage movement was the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, and it was founded and run by a woman. If you research this movement and its leaders, it’s eerily similar to the modern anti-abortion movement. Anti-suffragettes were called “antis” for short. This is particularly fitting, because that is exactly what anti-abortion protestors are called today. 

Many people are surprised to learn that women often led the charge against women’s suffrage. But as Corrine McConnaughy, author of The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment, has said, “In short, they were women who were doing, comparatively, quite well under the existing system, with incentives to hang onto a system that privileged them.”

Sound familiar?

Kelly Loeffler and Renee Unterman benefit from our patriarchal, racist system, so they choose to reinforce it. When it comes to abortion, women with means — especially white women — will always be able to access the care they need, and no amount of anti-abortion legislation will change that. A world without Roe doesn’t scare them. Just like a world without voting rights didn’t scare their predecessors. 

The good news is, 100 years ago this year, the antis lost, and women gained the right to vote. Now we have to exercise that right to make sure the antis lose again. Renee Unterman is currently running for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. In November, Kelly Loeffler will face a “jungle primary,” which means that all candidates for that Senate seat compete on one ballot — Republicans and Democrats — and if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two will compete in a runoff. We have the opportunity to elect real champions for social justice up and down the ballot, but let’s be very clear: Just because they have a uterus doesn’t mean they’re qualified to represent women’s best interests. 

I’ve said it before: This was never about abortion. Before this, it was contraception. Before that, it was the right to vote. Before that, it was the right to own property. Ultimately, this has always been about women’s civil and human rights, and women have always been on both sides of the resistance — which side we’re on is often dictated by race, class, and privilege.

If we do our part, one day, our children’s children will be surprised to learn that the anti-abortion movement, now a thing of the past, was often led by women, just like we were surprised to learn that the anti-suffrage movement was led by women. Loeffler and Unterman will become forgotten blips in the history of women’s rights and the history of this country, just like the self-loathing, self-serving women before them. Because as is so often the case, men will take center stage in this tale of women’s systematic oppression, whether they deserve the glory or not. — CL — 

Just like a uterus doesn’t qualify you to be a women’s advocate, not having a uterus won’t disqualify you either! If you are a man who wants to support reproductive rights and access to health care, check out www.men4choice.org

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  string(5837) "In early December, Governor Brian Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to succeed U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, who is retiring at the end of 2019 due to health concerns. Governor Kemp was proud to point out that this appointment makes Loeffler “Georgia’s first female Senator in nearly 100 years.” He went on, “But, more importantly, I’m excited to appoint a lifelong Republican who shares our conservative values and vision for a safer, stronger Georgia.” And there’s the rub. 

Turns out, being a woman doesn’t make you an advocate for women. Loeffler is a perfect example. In her acceptance remarks, Loeffler said, “Contrary to what you might see in the media, not every strong American woman is a liberal. Many of us are conservative and proud of it.” She went on to assert that — in addition to being “pro-Second Amendment, pro-military, pro-wall, and pro-Trump” — she is also strongly anti-choice and would support a federal ban on abortion. 

Despite that, anti-abortion groups have questioned Loeffler’s conservative bona fides and tried to tie her to Planned Parenthood. Loeffler is co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, Atlanta’s professional women’s basketball team, and the connection seems to stem from a WNBA promotion in which a portion of ticket sales was donated to six nonprofit causes, including Planned Parenthood. To clarify: Kelly Loeffler is not an ally of Planned Parenthood and she is no champion for women’s rights. 

In her own words, she will “make no apologies for [[her] conservative values and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.” The same conservative judges who are poised to gut Roe v. Wade and turn back the clock on reproductive rights. 

Women waging the war against women’s rights is nothing new here in Georgia. You may remember last spring, when State Senator Renee Unterman sponsored Georgia’s six-week abortion ban in the Senate. The morning the bill passed, Unterman posted a telling photo of herself, propped up in front of the 33 male, Republican colleagues who helped her pass the bill. Unterman is in the foreground of the photo with her closest male colleagues at least six feet away. Drowning in a sea of distant blue and gray suits, Unterman looks like she is in the proverbial mushpot — a position befitting of the token woman leading the charge against reproductive rights. 

This tradition of women working against our own best interests goes far beyond Sen. Unterman and Kelly Loeffler. In fact, in the early 1900s, many of the people who led the movement against women’s suffrage were women. The leading organization in the anti-suffrage movement was the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, and it was founded and run by a woman. If you research this movement and its leaders, it’s eerily similar to the modern anti-abortion movement. Anti-suffragettes were called “antis” for short. This is particularly fitting, because that is exactly what anti-abortion protestors are called today. 

Many people are surprised to learn that women often led the charge against women’s suffrage. But as Corrine McConnaughy, author of ''The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment'', has said, “In short, they were women who were doing, comparatively, quite well under the existing system, with incentives to hang onto a system that privileged them.”

Sound familiar?

Kelly Loeffler and Renee Unterman benefit from our patriarchal, racist system, so they choose to reinforce it. When it comes to abortion, women with means — especially white women — will always be able to access the care they need, and no amount of anti-abortion legislation will change that. A world without Roe doesn’t scare them. Just like a world without voting rights didn’t scare their predecessors. 

The good news is, 100 years ago this year, the antis lost, and women gained the right to vote. Now we have to exercise that right to make sure the antis lose again. Renee Unterman is currently running for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. In November, Kelly Loeffler will face a “jungle primary,” which means that all candidates for that Senate seat compete on one ballot — Republicans and Democrats — and if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two will compete in a runoff. We have the opportunity to elect real champions for social justice up and down the ballot, but let’s be very clear: Just because they have a uterus doesn’t mean they’re qualified to represent women’s best interests. 

I’ve said it before: This was never about abortion. Before this, it was contraception. Before that, it was the right to vote. Before that, it was the right to own property. Ultimately, this has always been about women’s civil and human rights, and women have always been on both sides of the resistance — which side we’re on is often dictated by race, class, and privilege.

If we do our part, one day, our children’s children will be surprised to learn that the anti-abortion movement, now a thing of the past, was often led by women, just like we were surprised to learn that the anti-suffrage movement was led by women. Loeffler and Unterman will become forgotten blips in the history of women’s rights and the history of this country, just like the self-loathing, self-serving women before them. Because as is so often the case, men will take center stage in this tale of women’s systematic oppression, whether they deserve the glory or not. __— CL — __

''Just like a uterus doesn’t qualify you to be a women’s advocate, not having a uterus won’t disqualify you either! If you are a man who wants to support reproductive rights and access to health care, check out www.men4choice.org''

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  string(6514) " MY BODY Gwhints Composite  2020-01-03T15:10:13+00:00 MY_BODY_gwhints_composite.jpg   Keep up the good fight! mybodymyvoice And you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows 27177  2020-01-01T14:53:00+00:00 MY BODY, MY VOICE: You need more than a uterus to be an advocate for women jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Barbara Ann Luttrell  2020-01-01T14:53:00+00:00  In early December, Governor Brian Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to succeed U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, who is retiring at the end of 2019 due to health concerns. Governor Kemp was proud to point out that this appointment makes Loeffler “Georgia’s first female Senator in nearly 100 years.” He went on, “But, more importantly, I’m excited to appoint a lifelong Republican who shares our conservative values and vision for a safer, stronger Georgia.” And there’s the rub. 

Turns out, being a woman doesn’t make you an advocate for women. Loeffler is a perfect example. In her acceptance remarks, Loeffler said, “Contrary to what you might see in the media, not every strong American woman is a liberal. Many of us are conservative and proud of it.” She went on to assert that — in addition to being “pro-Second Amendment, pro-military, pro-wall, and pro-Trump” — she is also strongly anti-choice and would support a federal ban on abortion. 

Despite that, anti-abortion groups have questioned Loeffler’s conservative bona fides and tried to tie her to Planned Parenthood. Loeffler is co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, Atlanta’s professional women’s basketball team, and the connection seems to stem from a WNBA promotion in which a portion of ticket sales was donated to six nonprofit causes, including Planned Parenthood. To clarify: Kelly Loeffler is not an ally of Planned Parenthood and she is no champion for women’s rights. 

In her own words, she will “make no apologies for her conservative values and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.” The same conservative judges who are poised to gut Roe v. Wade and turn back the clock on reproductive rights. 

Women waging the war against women’s rights is nothing new here in Georgia. You may remember last spring, when State Senator Renee Unterman sponsored Georgia’s six-week abortion ban in the Senate. The morning the bill passed, Unterman posted a telling photo of herself, propped up in front of the 33 male, Republican colleagues who helped her pass the bill. Unterman is in the foreground of the photo with her closest male colleagues at least six feet away. Drowning in a sea of distant blue and gray suits, Unterman looks like she is in the proverbial mushpot — a position befitting of the token woman leading the charge against reproductive rights. 

This tradition of women working against our own best interests goes far beyond Sen. Unterman and Kelly Loeffler. In fact, in the early 1900s, many of the people who led the movement against women’s suffrage were women. The leading organization in the anti-suffrage movement was the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, and it was founded and run by a woman. If you research this movement and its leaders, it’s eerily similar to the modern anti-abortion movement. Anti-suffragettes were called “antis” for short. This is particularly fitting, because that is exactly what anti-abortion protestors are called today. 

Many people are surprised to learn that women often led the charge against women’s suffrage. But as Corrine McConnaughy, author of The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment, has said, “In short, they were women who were doing, comparatively, quite well under the existing system, with incentives to hang onto a system that privileged them.”

Sound familiar?

Kelly Loeffler and Renee Unterman benefit from our patriarchal, racist system, so they choose to reinforce it. When it comes to abortion, women with means — especially white women — will always be able to access the care they need, and no amount of anti-abortion legislation will change that. A world without Roe doesn’t scare them. Just like a world without voting rights didn’t scare their predecessors. 

The good news is, 100 years ago this year, the antis lost, and women gained the right to vote. Now we have to exercise that right to make sure the antis lose again. Renee Unterman is currently running for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. In November, Kelly Loeffler will face a “jungle primary,” which means that all candidates for that Senate seat compete on one ballot — Republicans and Democrats — and if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two will compete in a runoff. We have the opportunity to elect real champions for social justice up and down the ballot, but let’s be very clear: Just because they have a uterus doesn’t mean they’re qualified to represent women’s best interests. 

I’ve said it before: This was never about abortion. Before this, it was contraception. Before that, it was the right to vote. Before that, it was the right to own property. Ultimately, this has always been about women’s civil and human rights, and women have always been on both sides of the resistance — which side we’re on is often dictated by race, class, and privilege.

If we do our part, one day, our children’s children will be surprised to learn that the anti-abortion movement, now a thing of the past, was often led by women, just like we were surprised to learn that the anti-suffrage movement was led by women. Loeffler and Unterman will become forgotten blips in the history of women’s rights and the history of this country, just like the self-loathing, self-serving women before them. Because as is so often the case, men will take center stage in this tale of women’s systematic oppression, whether they deserve the glory or not. — CL — 

Just like a uterus doesn’t qualify you to be a women’s advocate, not having a uterus won’t disqualify you either! If you are a man who wants to support reproductive rights and access to health care, check out www.men4choice.org

    JEWISH WOMEN’S ARCHIVE: “Pamphlet by the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage.” ANTI SUFFRAGE PROPAGANDA: “Control of the temper makes a happier home than control of elections.”  0,0,10    mybodymyvoice                             MY BODY, MY VOICE: You need more than a uterus to be an advocate for women "
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Wednesday January 1, 2020 09:53 am EST
And you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows | more...
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According to Amnesty International, we are in the midst of a “maternal health care crisis in the USA,” and the worst state of all is Georgia — worse than many much poorer countries. The numbers are even more dire for black women, who are three to four times more likely to die in pregnancy than their white counterparts — a racial disparity that exists regardless of socioeconomic or education level.


If you have ever been to the state Capitol, you’ve probably seen the big signs, declaring Georgia the “number one state for business.” What the banners fail to mention is that we are also the number-one state for women dying from pregnancy and childbirth.

It’s so bad that in 2018, the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP) released a policy report titled, “When the State Fails,” which asserts that “the state of Georgia is failing in its obligations to women by making decisions that perpetuate a maternal mortality crisis disproportionally impacting Black women.” Which translates to: Georgia lawmakers — this is on you. But the report doesn’t just place blame. It also lists the four primary structural causes of Georgia’s maternal mortality rate and some feasible solutions, including improved access to maternal care, particularly in rural communities; increased access to insurance, such as expanding Medicaid; increased funding for maternal health in Georgia; and accountability around data analysis and use.

So, when Georgia’s Maternal Mortality House Study Committee held its inaugural meeting this September, I was looking forward to hearing about some concrete solutions for this public health crisis. When I arrived at the meeting, it was clear I wasn’t alone in my anticipation — the room was packed with eager onlookers. It didn’t take long for that feeling of hope to fade, and the familiar feeling of utter disgust and disappointment to creep in.

After a round of  introductions, Committee Chair Representative Sharon Cooper, a nurse by training, kicked off the meeting by saying that more men need to become OB-GYNs because “women (OB-GYNs) quit delivering babies too early.” The room, full of mostly women — many of them OB-GYNs, muttered in surprise and confusion. She went on, “Not that (women) don’t do a great job...” 

That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the proceedings.

We then heard from a series of experts about the current state of maternal health in Georgia, known causes of the crisis, and potential solutions. Unfortunately, that information didn’t seem to fit the agenda of Representative Cooper. The meeting quickly devolved into an attempt to manipulate the data so that Georgia’s maternal mortality numbers would look better instead of figuring out how to reduce pregnancy-related deaths in the state. Representative Cooper actually asked a testifying physician if there was anything we could do to “make Georgia’s numbers not look so bad.” Around the room, jaws dropped in unison. Some committee members went so far as to ask how we could be sure that a hypothetical pregnant woman who dies in a car accident isn’t accidentally counted in Georgia’s maternal mortality numbers. I haven’t done a deep dive into the available data, but I can assure you, Georgia isn’t the top state for maternal mortality because a bunch of pregnant women are driving recklessly. Not one person asked how we could actually predict and prevent maternal deaths. When one expert reiterated the fact that black women are dying at exponentially greater rates than their white counterparts, Representative Cooper said that seemed “reasonable” given increased rates of diabetes and high blood pressure in black women. The audience grumbled in disbelief. There are many words I might use to describe the fact that black women are needlessly dying across our state, but “reasonable” is not one of them. The only “reasonable” thing I heard that day was from Representative Carolyn Hugley, who tried to put the expert testimony in perspective for her colleagues. “In any event, regardless of the best or most favorable number for Georgia or the worst for Georgia, for women of color it’s still a crisis, is that right?” she said. The audience echoed her frustration. When we left the meeting, it felt like we were no closer to a solution than we were when we walked in.

Georgia has thrown some money at the problem though. In fiscal year 2019, Georgia allocated a measly $2 million of the state’s overall $4.8-billion health budget to maternal mortality. Meanwhile, half of Georgia’s counties still have no OB-GYN; unregulated, fake women’s health clinics posing as “crisis pregnancy centers” — of which there are nearly 100 scattered across the state — receive state funding; Georgia still hasn’t expanded Medicaid; and regressive Georgia lawmakers focused the bulk of their time and energy in 2019 to pass an abortion ban that outlaws the procedure before most people even know they’re pregnant, thereby forcing Georgians to carry pregnancies to term that could very well be their death sentence.

The most baffling part of this whole embarrassing statistic, is that most of these deaths are totally preventable. Just this year, the Georgia-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report which found that nationally, three out of five pregnancy-related deaths could be prevented. In Georgia, the number of preventable deaths is more than half. CDC determined that each pregnancy-related death was associated with several failures of the system, including a lack of access to appropriate and high-quality care, missed or delayed diagnoses, and lack of knowledge among patients and providers around warning signs — all things that could be addressed through policy change.

By now, you might have made the rational assumption that Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis is a consequence of the state lagging behind our ever-evolving science and technology, but you’d be wrong. In fact, pregnancy-related deaths steadily INCREASED in Georgia from 1987 to 2014, despite major advances in modern medicine. The problem here isn’t a mystery. As Dr. Melissa Kottke, one of the expert witnesses at the committee meeting, put it, when it comes to solving these problems, “we don’t have to guess about the things that work.” So why isn’t Georgia doing those things? Because Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis is the result of structural inequality, decades of racist policies, and blatant apathy on the part of many of our lawmakers. But what those elected officials haven’t taken into account is that more than half of Georgians can get pregnant, and we will vote like our lives depend on it. -CL-

To see a map of the nearly 100 state-funded, fake women’s health centers across Georgia, visit https://crisispregnancycentermap.com

To read Yale Global Health Justice Partnership’s policy report on Georgia, titled “When the State Fails,” visit bit.ly/WhentheStateFails"
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According to Amnesty International, we are in the midst of a “maternal health care crisis in the USA,” and the worst state of all is Georgia — worse than many much poorer countries. The numbers are even more dire for black women, who are three to four times more likely to die in pregnancy than their white counterparts — a racial disparity that exists regardless of socioeconomic or education level.


If you have ever been to the state Capitol, you’ve probably seen the big signs, declaring Georgia the “number one state for business.” What the banners fail to mention is that we are also the number-one state for women dying from pregnancy and childbirth.

It’s so bad that in 2018, the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP) released a policy report titled, “When the State Fails,” which asserts that “the state of Georgia is failing in its obligations to women by making decisions that perpetuate a maternal mortality crisis disproportionally impacting Black women.” Which translates to: Georgia lawmakers — this is on you. But the report doesn’t just place blame. It also lists the four primary structural causes of Georgia’s maternal mortality rate and some feasible solutions, including improved access to maternal care, particularly in rural communities; increased access to insurance, such as expanding Medicaid; increased funding for maternal health in Georgia; and accountability around data analysis and use.

So, when Georgia’s Maternal Mortality House Study Committee held its inaugural meeting this September, I was looking forward to hearing about some concrete solutions for this public health crisis. When I arrived at the meeting, it was clear I wasn’t alone in my anticipation — the room was packed with eager onlookers. It didn’t take long for that feeling of hope to fade, and the familiar feeling of utter disgust and disappointment to creep in.

After a round of  introductions, Committee Chair Representative Sharon Cooper, a nurse by training, kicked off the meeting by saying that more men need to become OB-GYNs because “women (OB-GYNs) quit delivering babies too early.” The room, full of mostly women — many of them OB-GYNs, muttered in surprise and confusion. She went on, “Not that (women) don’t do a great job...” 

That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the proceedings.

We then heard from a series of experts about the current state of maternal health in Georgia, known causes of the crisis, and potential solutions. Unfortunately, that information didn’t seem to fit the agenda of Representative Cooper. The meeting quickly devolved into an attempt to manipulate the data so that Georgia’s maternal mortality numbers would look better instead of figuring out how to reduce pregnancy-related deaths in the state. Representative Cooper actually asked a testifying physician if there was anything we could do to “make Georgia’s numbers not look so bad.” Around the room, jaws dropped in unison. Some committee members went so far as to ask how we could be sure that a hypothetical pregnant woman who dies in a car accident isn’t accidentally counted in Georgia’s maternal mortality numbers. I haven’t done a deep dive into the available data, but I can assure you, Georgia isn’t the top state for maternal mortality because a bunch of pregnant women are driving recklessly. Not one person asked how we could actually predict and prevent maternal deaths. When one expert reiterated the fact that black women are dying at exponentially greater rates than their white counterparts, Representative Cooper said that seemed “reasonable” given increased rates of diabetes and high blood pressure in black women. The audience grumbled in disbelief. There are many words I might use to describe the fact that black women are needlessly dying across our state, but “reasonable” is not one of them. The only “reasonable” thing I heard that day was from Representative Carolyn Hugley, who tried to put the expert testimony in perspective for her colleagues. “In any event, regardless of the best or most favorable number for Georgia or the worst for Georgia, for women of color it’s still a crisis, is that right?” she said. The audience echoed her frustration. When we left the meeting, it felt like we were no closer to a solution than we were when we walked in.

Georgia has thrown some money at the problem though. In fiscal year 2019, Georgia allocated a measly $2 million of the state’s overall $4.8-billion health budget to maternal mortality. Meanwhile, half of Georgia’s counties still have no OB-GYN; unregulated, fake women’s health clinics posing as “crisis pregnancy centers” — of which there are nearly 100 scattered across the state — receive state funding; Georgia still hasn’t expanded Medicaid; and regressive Georgia lawmakers focused the bulk of their time and energy in 2019 to pass an abortion ban that outlaws the procedure before most people even know they’re pregnant, thereby forcing Georgians to carry pregnancies to term that could very well be their death sentence.

The most baffling part of this whole embarrassing statistic, is that most of these deaths are totally preventable. Just this year, the Georgia-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report which found that nationally, three out of five pregnancy-related deaths could be prevented. In Georgia, the number of preventable deaths is more than half. CDC determined that each pregnancy-related death was associated with several failures of the system, including a lack of access to appropriate and high-quality care, missed or delayed diagnoses, and lack of knowledge among patients and providers around warning signs — all things that could be addressed through policy change.

By now, you might have made the rational assumption that Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis is a consequence of the state lagging behind our ever-evolving science and technology, but you’d be wrong. In fact, pregnancy-related deaths steadily INCREASED in Georgia from 1987 to 2014, despite major advances in modern medicine. The problem here isn’t a mystery. As Dr. Melissa Kottke, one of the expert witnesses at the committee meeting, put it, when it comes to solving these problems, “we don’t have to guess about the things that work.” So why isn’t Georgia doing those things? Because Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis is the result of structural inequality, decades of racist policies, and blatant apathy on the part of many of our lawmakers. But what those elected officials haven’t taken into account is that more than half of Georgians can get pregnant, and we will vote like our lives depend on it. __-CL-__

''To see a map of the nearly 100 state-funded, fake women’s health centers across Georgia, visit [https://crisispregnancycentermap.com]''

''To read Yale Global Health Justice Partnership’s policy report on Georgia, titled “When the State Fails,” visit bit.ly/WhentheStateFails''"
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According to Amnesty International, we are in the midst of a “maternal health care crisis in the USA,” and the worst state of all is Georgia — worse than many much poorer countries. The numbers are even more dire for black women, who are three to four times more likely to die in pregnancy than their white counterparts — a racial disparity that exists regardless of socioeconomic or education level.


If you have ever been to the state Capitol, you’ve probably seen the big signs, declaring Georgia the “number one state for business.” What the banners fail to mention is that we are also the number-one state for women dying from pregnancy and childbirth.

It’s so bad that in 2018, the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP) released a policy report titled, “When the State Fails,” which asserts that “the state of Georgia is failing in its obligations to women by making decisions that perpetuate a maternal mortality crisis disproportionally impacting Black women.” Which translates to: Georgia lawmakers — this is on you. But the report doesn’t just place blame. It also lists the four primary structural causes of Georgia’s maternal mortality rate and some feasible solutions, including improved access to maternal care, particularly in rural communities; increased access to insurance, such as expanding Medicaid; increased funding for maternal health in Georgia; and accountability around data analysis and use.

So, when Georgia’s Maternal Mortality House Study Committee held its inaugural meeting this September, I was looking forward to hearing about some concrete solutions for this public health crisis. When I arrived at the meeting, it was clear I wasn’t alone in my anticipation — the room was packed with eager onlookers. It didn’t take long for that feeling of hope to fade, and the familiar feeling of utter disgust and disappointment to creep in.

After a round of  introductions, Committee Chair Representative Sharon Cooper, a nurse by training, kicked off the meeting by saying that more men need to become OB-GYNs because “women (OB-GYNs) quit delivering babies too early.” The room, full of mostly women — many of them OB-GYNs, muttered in surprise and confusion. She went on, “Not that (women) don’t do a great job...” 

That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the proceedings.

We then heard from a series of experts about the current state of maternal health in Georgia, known causes of the crisis, and potential solutions. Unfortunately, that information didn’t seem to fit the agenda of Representative Cooper. The meeting quickly devolved into an attempt to manipulate the data so that Georgia’s maternal mortality numbers would look better instead of figuring out how to reduce pregnancy-related deaths in the state. Representative Cooper actually asked a testifying physician if there was anything we could do to “make Georgia’s numbers not look so bad.” Around the room, jaws dropped in unison. Some committee members went so far as to ask how we could be sure that a hypothetical pregnant woman who dies in a car accident isn’t accidentally counted in Georgia’s maternal mortality numbers. I haven’t done a deep dive into the available data, but I can assure you, Georgia isn’t the top state for maternal mortality because a bunch of pregnant women are driving recklessly. Not one person asked how we could actually predict and prevent maternal deaths. When one expert reiterated the fact that black women are dying at exponentially greater rates than their white counterparts, Representative Cooper said that seemed “reasonable” given increased rates of diabetes and high blood pressure in black women. The audience grumbled in disbelief. There are many words I might use to describe the fact that black women are needlessly dying across our state, but “reasonable” is not one of them. The only “reasonable” thing I heard that day was from Representative Carolyn Hugley, who tried to put the expert testimony in perspective for her colleagues. “In any event, regardless of the best or most favorable number for Georgia or the worst for Georgia, for women of color it’s still a crisis, is that right?” she said. The audience echoed her frustration. When we left the meeting, it felt like we were no closer to a solution than we were when we walked in.

Georgia has thrown some money at the problem though. In fiscal year 2019, Georgia allocated a measly $2 million of the state’s overall $4.8-billion health budget to maternal mortality. Meanwhile, half of Georgia’s counties still have no OB-GYN; unregulated, fake women’s health clinics posing as “crisis pregnancy centers” — of which there are nearly 100 scattered across the state — receive state funding; Georgia still hasn’t expanded Medicaid; and regressive Georgia lawmakers focused the bulk of their time and energy in 2019 to pass an abortion ban that outlaws the procedure before most people even know they’re pregnant, thereby forcing Georgians to carry pregnancies to term that could very well be their death sentence.

The most baffling part of this whole embarrassing statistic, is that most of these deaths are totally preventable. Just this year, the Georgia-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report which found that nationally, three out of five pregnancy-related deaths could be prevented. In Georgia, the number of preventable deaths is more than half. CDC determined that each pregnancy-related death was associated with several failures of the system, including a lack of access to appropriate and high-quality care, missed or delayed diagnoses, and lack of knowledge among patients and providers around warning signs — all things that could be addressed through policy change.

By now, you might have made the rational assumption that Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis is a consequence of the state lagging behind our ever-evolving science and technology, but you’d be wrong. In fact, pregnancy-related deaths steadily INCREASED in Georgia from 1987 to 2014, despite major advances in modern medicine. The problem here isn’t a mystery. As Dr. Melissa Kottke, one of the expert witnesses at the committee meeting, put it, when it comes to solving these problems, “we don’t have to guess about the things that work.” So why isn’t Georgia doing those things? Because Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis is the result of structural inequality, decades of racist policies, and blatant apathy on the part of many of our lawmakers. But what those elected officials haven’t taken into account is that more than half of Georgians can get pregnant, and we will vote like our lives depend on it. -CL-

To see a map of the nearly 100 state-funded, fake women’s health centers across Georgia, visit https://crisispregnancycentermap.com

To read Yale Global Health Justice Partnership’s policy report on Georgia, titled “When the State Fails,” visit bit.ly/WhentheStateFails    Barbara Ann Luttrell FAILING IN OBLIGATIONS: Georgia is #1.  0,0,10    mybodymyvoice                             MY BODY, MY VOICE: Pregnancy is often a death sentence in Georgia "
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Article

Tuesday December 3, 2019 04:41 pm EST
Every single day, pregnant women in Georgia are dying unnecessarily | more...
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  string(7140) "Forty-six years ago, womankind celebrated a landmark victory. Thanks to Roe v. Wade, abortion was finally legal in the U.S. And with that victory, American women came one step closer to achieving bodily autonomy and therefore, equality. Yet, as the golden anniversary of that historic decision approaches, access to abortion is being threatened like never before. Just this year, 33 states introduced abortion bans, all with one express goal: overturn Roe v. Wade and outlaw safe, legal abortion. 

Here in Georgia, legislators passed a blatantly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban, House Bill 481, which would outlaw abortion before most women even know they’re pregnant. The bill criminalizes doctors, forcing them to make an impossible choice: treat their pregnant patient and risk jail time for endangering the pregnancy; or refuse to treat their patient to protect themselves, and risk their patient’s life instead. If allowed to take effect, this would deter doctors from practicing in our state, which already suffers from a severe physician shortage, and it would be a death sentence for thousands of Georgia women. Banning abortion doesn’t stop abortion. It just stops safe abortion. 

Thankfully, local reproductive rights advocates, Planned Parenthood Southeast, ACLU of Georgia, and the Center for Reproductive Rights have vowed to sue the state to block this bill from ever taking effect, and legal precedent is on their side. In fact, just a few weeks ago, a federal district judge struck down a nearly identical bill in Mississippi, stating, “this law prevents a woman’s free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy.” So for now — and hopefully forever — abortion is still safe, legal, and available in Georgia. 

In the midst of these unprecedented attacks on reproductive health care, women’s health continues to decline in this country. Women are 50 percent more likely to die in childbirth than 30 years ago, with African American women three to four times more likely to die than white women. It’s even worse here in Georgia, where we suffer from the second highest maternal mortality rate in the country, and half of our counties do not have a single OB-GYN. And yet, instead of working to expand access to health care or improve health outcomes in our state, lawmakers are enacting legislation to force women to carry pregnancies. A subject which few, if any, of the legislators seem to understand.



If you were following along with the HB 481 fight, you may have heard several politicians expose their own ignorance when it comes to women’s bodies, pregnancies, and medicine writ large. The bill itself is full of false and misleading information. In fact, HB 481 referenced a medical institution that does not exist, the “American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,” to defend its medically inaccurate content. One might assume that the bill’s author intended to reference the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the country’s leading authority on women’s health. The problem with that assumption, however, is that ACOG has been a vocal leader in opposition to abortion bans like HB 481, stating, “ACOG strongly opposes political efforts to limit a woman’s ability to get the care she needs, including bans on abortion care. ACOG recognizes that abortion is an essential component of health care for millions of women and opposes political interference in health care. Health care decisions should be made jointly only by patients and their trusted health care professionals, not by politicians.”

It’s not just ACOG that is vocally opposed to HB 481. During this legislative session, hundreds of Georgia citizens packed the halls of the state Capitol for weeks on end. More than 300 Georgia business leaders spoke out publicly against the ban. The medical community came out in united opposition to HB 481, with dozens of doctors lined up to testify against the ban. The $9 billion Georgia film and entertainment industry published letters, threatening to boycott work in Atlanta if the ban was enacted. And more than 6,000 Georgians signed a petition urging Governor Brian Kemp to veto the bill. The truth is, our lawmakers heard from us loud and clear — they just didn’t want to listen. Perhaps that’s because they thought we would go away eventually, exhausted by the months-long fight. 

After HB 481 was signed by Governor Kemp, the bill’s sponsor, Representative Ed Setzler, said that things would go back to normal “once the shrill attacks of the opponents sort of fade into the background.” 

Shrill: a word reserved exclusively for a woman’s dissent. 

In some ways it’s true. We were shrill. Shrill like the beeping of a smoke detector, warning of fire. We were screaming at the top of our lungs as we watched our constitutional rights go up in flames. And we did not go unheard. Just last weekend, I was in Columbia, South Carolina, for Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s We Decide Presidential Forum. For the first time in history, we heard 20 presidential candidates publicly and proudly outline their plans to expand access to safe, legal abortion. And just like that, we redefined the 2020 election and all elections to follow, centering women’s health and rights like never before. Proving that if you are loud enough — and shrill enough — you can shatter glass ceilings without ever bumping your head.

So why, in the 21st century, are we retracing our grandmothers’ steps, still fighting to control our own bodies and our futures? And why are (mostly white, mostly male) lawmakers hell-bent on rolling back our constitutional rights? Because while abortion is often at the center of the women’s rights movement, this is — and always has been — about more. This is about our most basic human rights.

Not so long ago, women’s use of contraception was just as stigmatized as abortion is today. Before that, it was the women’s right to vote. Before that, it was women’s right to own property. The battles have changed, but the fight remains the same. Women’s oppression is a tale as old as time.

We have been doing this dance with progress for generations. If there’s anything history has taught us, it’s that for every one step back, there are two steps forward — if we just keep moving. And while we will never stop fighting for access to safe, legal abortion, this movement does not begin or end with Roe. We will not be quiet and we will not back down, because we hold this truth to be self-evident: All men are created equal. And that means women, too. -CL- 

This month Creative Loafing is proud to welcome a new columnist, Barbara Ann Luttrell, to our pages and online. Luttrell serves as the director of communications and marketing at Planned Parenthood Southeast, where she’s on the frontlines in the fight for reproductive health rights in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. The views in this column are her own, forged from the insight and knowledge she gains everyday, whether in the office or in the streets."
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Here in Georgia, legislators passed a blatantly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban, House Bill 481, which would outlaw abortion before most women even know they’re pregnant. The bill criminalizes doctors, forcing them to make an impossible choice: treat their pregnant patient and risk jail time for endangering the pregnancy; or refuse to treat their patient to protect themselves, and risk their patient’s life instead. If allowed to take effect, this would deter doctors from practicing in our state, which already suffers from a severe physician shortage, and it would be a death sentence for thousands of Georgia women. Banning abortion doesn’t stop abortion. It just stops safe abortion. 

Thankfully, local reproductive rights advocates, Planned Parenthood Southeast, ACLU of Georgia, and the Center for Reproductive Rights have vowed to sue the state to block this bill from ever taking effect, and legal precedent is on their side. In fact, just a few weeks ago, a federal district judge struck down a nearly identical bill in Mississippi, stating, “[this law] prevents a woman’s free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy.” So for now — and hopefully forever — abortion is still safe, legal, and available in Georgia. 

In the midst of these unprecedented attacks on reproductive health care, women’s health continues to decline in this country. Women are 50 percent more likely to die in childbirth than 30 years ago, with African American women three to four times more likely to die than white women. It’s even worse here in Georgia, where we suffer from the second highest maternal mortality rate in the country, and half of our counties do not have a single OB-GYN. And yet, instead of working to expand access to health care or improve health outcomes in our state, lawmakers are enacting legislation to force women to carry pregnancies. A subject which few, if any, of the legislators seem to understand.

{DIV( type="blockquote" width="800px" align="justify")}‘For the first time in history, we heard 20 presidential candidates publicly and proudly outline their plans to expand access to safe,
legal abortion. And just like that, we redefined the 2020 election.’{DIV}

If you were following along with the HB 481 fight, you may have heard several politicians expose their own ignorance when it comes to women’s bodies, pregnancies, and medicine writ large. The bill itself is full of false and misleading information. In fact, HB 481 referenced a medical institution that does not exist, the “American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,” to defend its medically inaccurate content. One might assume that the bill’s author intended to reference the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the country’s leading authority on women’s health. The problem with that assumption, however, is that ACOG has been a vocal leader in opposition to abortion bans like HB 481, stating, “ACOG strongly opposes political efforts to limit a woman’s ability to get the care she needs, including bans on abortion care. ACOG recognizes that abortion is an essential component of health care for millions of women and opposes political interference in health care. Health care decisions should be made jointly only by patients and their trusted health care professionals, not by politicians.”

It’s not just ACOG that is vocally opposed to HB 481. During this legislative session, hundreds of Georgia citizens packed the halls of the state Capitol for weeks on end. More than 300 Georgia business leaders spoke out publicly against the ban. The medical community came out in united opposition to HB 481, with dozens of doctors lined up to testify against the ban. The $9 billion Georgia film and entertainment industry published letters, threatening to boycott work in Atlanta if the ban was enacted. And more than 6,000 Georgians signed a petition urging Governor Brian Kemp to veto the bill. The truth is, our lawmakers heard from us loud and clear — they just didn’t want to listen. Perhaps that’s because they thought we would go away eventually, exhausted by the months-long fight. 

After HB 481 was signed by Governor Kemp, the bill’s sponsor, Representative Ed Setzler, said that things would go back to normal “once the shrill attacks of the opponents sort of fade into the background.” 

Shrill: a word reserved exclusively for a woman’s dissent. 

In some ways it’s true. We were shrill. Shrill like the beeping of a smoke detector, warning of fire. We were screaming at the top of our lungs as we watched our constitutional rights go up in flames. And we did not go unheard. Just last weekend, I was in Columbia, South Carolina, for Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s We Decide Presidential Forum. For the first time in history, we heard 20 presidential candidates publicly and proudly outline their plans to expand access to safe, legal abortion. And just like that, we redefined the 2020 election and all elections to follow, centering women’s health and rights like never before. Proving that if you are loud enough — and shrill enough — you can shatter glass ceilings without ever bumping your head.

So why, in the 21st century, are we retracing our grandmothers’ steps, still fighting to control our own bodies and our futures? And why are (mostly white, mostly male) lawmakers hell-bent on rolling back our constitutional rights? Because while abortion is often at the center of the women’s rights movement, this is — and always has been — about more. This is about our most basic human rights.

Not so long ago, women’s use of contraception was just as stigmatized as abortion is today. Before that, it was the women’s right to vote. Before that, it was women’s right to own property. The battles have changed, but the fight remains the same. Women’s oppression is a tale as old as time.

We have been doing this dance with progress for generations. If there’s anything history has taught us, it’s that for every one step back, there are two steps forward — if we just keep moving. And while we will never stop fighting for access to safe, legal abortion, this movement does not begin or end with Roe. We will not be quiet and we will not back down, because we hold this truth to be self-evident: All men are created equal. And that means women, too. __-CL-__ 

''This month ''Creative Loafing'' is proud to welcome a new columnist, Barbara Ann Luttrell, to our pages and online. Luttrell serves as the director of communications and marketing at Planned Parenthood Southeast, where she’s on the frontlines in the fight for reproductive health rights in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. The views in this column are her own, forged from the insight and knowledge she gains everyday, whether in the office or in the streets.''"
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  string(7745) " Barabara Ann Luttrell MAJORITY REPORTER: Barbara Ann Luttrell. 2019-07-01T19:35:45+00:00 Barabara_Ann_Luttrell.jpg   This. is. amazing. Beautifully articulated. abortion mybodymyvoice womensrights Women will not go unheard 19840  2019-07-01T19:27:33+00:00 MY BODY, MY VOICE: This Was Never About Abortion jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris BARBARA ANN LUTTRELL Jim Harris 2019-07-01T19:27:33+00:00  Forty-six years ago, womankind celebrated a landmark victory. Thanks to Roe v. Wade, abortion was finally legal in the U.S. And with that victory, American women came one step closer to achieving bodily autonomy and therefore, equality. Yet, as the golden anniversary of that historic decision approaches, access to abortion is being threatened like never before. Just this year, 33 states introduced abortion bans, all with one express goal: overturn Roe v. Wade and outlaw safe, legal abortion. 

Here in Georgia, legislators passed a blatantly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban, House Bill 481, which would outlaw abortion before most women even know they’re pregnant. The bill criminalizes doctors, forcing them to make an impossible choice: treat their pregnant patient and risk jail time for endangering the pregnancy; or refuse to treat their patient to protect themselves, and risk their patient’s life instead. If allowed to take effect, this would deter doctors from practicing in our state, which already suffers from a severe physician shortage, and it would be a death sentence for thousands of Georgia women. Banning abortion doesn’t stop abortion. It just stops safe abortion. 

Thankfully, local reproductive rights advocates, Planned Parenthood Southeast, ACLU of Georgia, and the Center for Reproductive Rights have vowed to sue the state to block this bill from ever taking effect, and legal precedent is on their side. In fact, just a few weeks ago, a federal district judge struck down a nearly identical bill in Mississippi, stating, “this law prevents a woman’s free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy.” So for now — and hopefully forever — abortion is still safe, legal, and available in Georgia. 

In the midst of these unprecedented attacks on reproductive health care, women’s health continues to decline in this country. Women are 50 percent more likely to die in childbirth than 30 years ago, with African American women three to four times more likely to die than white women. It’s even worse here in Georgia, where we suffer from the second highest maternal mortality rate in the country, and half of our counties do not have a single OB-GYN. And yet, instead of working to expand access to health care or improve health outcomes in our state, lawmakers are enacting legislation to force women to carry pregnancies. A subject which few, if any, of the legislators seem to understand.



If you were following along with the HB 481 fight, you may have heard several politicians expose their own ignorance when it comes to women’s bodies, pregnancies, and medicine writ large. The bill itself is full of false and misleading information. In fact, HB 481 referenced a medical institution that does not exist, the “American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,” to defend its medically inaccurate content. One might assume that the bill’s author intended to reference the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the country’s leading authority on women’s health. The problem with that assumption, however, is that ACOG has been a vocal leader in opposition to abortion bans like HB 481, stating, “ACOG strongly opposes political efforts to limit a woman’s ability to get the care she needs, including bans on abortion care. ACOG recognizes that abortion is an essential component of health care for millions of women and opposes political interference in health care. Health care decisions should be made jointly only by patients and their trusted health care professionals, not by politicians.”

It’s not just ACOG that is vocally opposed to HB 481. During this legislative session, hundreds of Georgia citizens packed the halls of the state Capitol for weeks on end. More than 300 Georgia business leaders spoke out publicly against the ban. The medical community came out in united opposition to HB 481, with dozens of doctors lined up to testify against the ban. The $9 billion Georgia film and entertainment industry published letters, threatening to boycott work in Atlanta if the ban was enacted. And more than 6,000 Georgians signed a petition urging Governor Brian Kemp to veto the bill. The truth is, our lawmakers heard from us loud and clear — they just didn’t want to listen. Perhaps that’s because they thought we would go away eventually, exhausted by the months-long fight. 

After HB 481 was signed by Governor Kemp, the bill’s sponsor, Representative Ed Setzler, said that things would go back to normal “once the shrill attacks of the opponents sort of fade into the background.” 

Shrill: a word reserved exclusively for a woman’s dissent. 

In some ways it’s true. We were shrill. Shrill like the beeping of a smoke detector, warning of fire. We were screaming at the top of our lungs as we watched our constitutional rights go up in flames. And we did not go unheard. Just last weekend, I was in Columbia, South Carolina, for Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s We Decide Presidential Forum. For the first time in history, we heard 20 presidential candidates publicly and proudly outline their plans to expand access to safe, legal abortion. And just like that, we redefined the 2020 election and all elections to follow, centering women’s health and rights like never before. Proving that if you are loud enough — and shrill enough — you can shatter glass ceilings without ever bumping your head.

So why, in the 21st century, are we retracing our grandmothers’ steps, still fighting to control our own bodies and our futures? And why are (mostly white, mostly male) lawmakers hell-bent on rolling back our constitutional rights? Because while abortion is often at the center of the women’s rights movement, this is — and always has been — about more. This is about our most basic human rights.

Not so long ago, women’s use of contraception was just as stigmatized as abortion is today. Before that, it was the women’s right to vote. Before that, it was women’s right to own property. The battles have changed, but the fight remains the same. Women’s oppression is a tale as old as time.

We have been doing this dance with progress for generations. If there’s anything history has taught us, it’s that for every one step back, there are two steps forward — if we just keep moving. And while we will never stop fighting for access to safe, legal abortion, this movement does not begin or end with Roe. We will not be quiet and we will not back down, because we hold this truth to be self-evident: All men are created equal. And that means women, too. -CL- 

This month Creative Loafing is proud to welcome a new columnist, Barbara Ann Luttrell, to our pages and online. Luttrell serves as the director of communications and marketing at Planned Parenthood Southeast, where she’s on the frontlines in the fight for reproductive health rights in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. The views in this column are her own, forged from the insight and knowledge she gains everyday, whether in the office or in the streets.    PHOTO COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR MAJORITY REPORTER: Barbara Ann Luttrell.  0,0,11    mybodymyvoice abortion womensrights                             MY BODY, MY VOICE: This Was Never About Abortion "
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Monday July 1, 2019 03:27 pm EDT
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