For The Record

ACLU follows court delay of Ga. anti-abortion law with health messages

By: - October 16, 2019 8:51 am

Andrea Young, director of the ACLU of Georgia, talks about Georgia’s anti-abortion law Tuesday. Jill Nolin/Georgia Recorder

A Georgia nonprofit that is spearheading the legal challenge of the state’s anti-abortion law is launching a campaign designed to counter what the group calls misrepresentations about the issue.

A series of 34 short videos, produced by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, feature physicians from different disciplines – including some who do not provide abortion services – speaking on various aspects of the law’s potential impact.

The group recently succeeded in persuading a federal court judge to delay implementation of the law while a broader challenge of the measure’s constitutionality is considered. Otherwise, the law to outlaw most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected was set to take effect Jan. 1. A fetal heartbeat can be detected at about six weeks, before many women will know they are pregnant.

“This is a separate track of really educating the public of what’s at stake and why we need to have an informed citizenry and an informed Legislature that’s going to make decisions that are in the best interest of women’s health and women’s autonomy,” said ACLU of Georgia Director Andrea Young.

Young called Georgia’s new law “breathtaking” for its lack of consideration for protecting women’s health. She noted that heart disease is a leading cause of death for women following delivery.

The ACLU of Georgia invited reporters to their Atlanta office to launch the campaign, called “Stop. The. Bans. American Physicians Speak Out.” The videos feature some Georgia doctors, as well as physicians who practice in states that also passed tough abortion restrictions.

Otherwise, a spokeswoman said the ACLU of Georgia would not release the full names of the physicians featured or disclose the states where they practice out of fear for their safety – including the name and home state of the cardiologist who offered remarks at a press conference held Tuesday. Some physicians provide their own identifying information on the videos.

The videos, which will be shared through social media, focus on maternal mortality, risks for women with heart conditions and other aspects of health care. One video looks at the chilling effect the law may have on doctors, such as those caring for a pregnant woman participating in a medication trial.

Georgia’s new anti-abortion law would ban most abortions except in the case of rape or incest – if the incident is reported – or when the mother’s life is at risk or the fetus is deemed medically futile. Today, Georgia allows abortions until 20 weeks into a pregnancy.

The measure passed earlier this year after a bitter fight under Georgia’s Gold Dome. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law in May, ensuring the issue will loom large over next year’s statehouse races.

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Jill Nolin
Jill Nolin

Jill Nolin has spent nearly 15 years reporting on state and local government in four states, focusing on policy and political stories and tracking public spending. She has spent the last five years chasing stories in the halls of Georgia’s Gold Dome, earning recognition for her work showing the impact of rising opioid addiction on the state’s rural communities. She is a graduate of Troy University.