The latest data show that 41% of pregnancies in Georgia were wanted later or unwanted.
Teen birth rates in Georgia are higher than the national average.4 Yet, ~30% of high schools in Georgia do not teach about methods of contraception other than condoms, and less than one-third of high schools teach all of the sexual health topics recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nearly one-fifth (19.4%) of women of reproductive age (15-44 years) in Georgia are not covered by public or private health insurance – the 3rd highest percentage in the country.
Access to Abortion Clinics
Only 28 facilities provide abortions and just 17 of those are clinics.
As of 2014, 96% of Georgia’s counties had no clinics that provide abortions, and 58% of the state’s female population live in those counties.
In 2018, Georgia received a “D” for reproductive health and rights due to low scores in prevention, affordability, and access.8 NARAL Pro-Choice America categorized abortion access in Georgia as “severely restricted”.
Legislation That Restricts Access to Abortion in Georgia
Georgia has the following laws, which make it unnecessarily difficult for people to have an abortion:
Mandated Counseling and Waiting Period
The state of Georgia requires that people seeking abortion that be provided the following information:
- That medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care;
- That the “father” is liable for child support;
- How to obtain a list of health care providers, facilities, and clinics that offer to perform ultrasounds free of charge (i.e., crisis pregnancy centers);
- That she has the right to review state-prepared materials on a state-sponsored website that describe the fetus, list agencies that offer alternatives to abortion (e.g., crisis pregnancy centers), and contain information on fetal pain.
A 2016 study reviewed Georgia state-prepared materials and found that >17% of statements about pregnancy were medically inaccurate and 25% of statements about the first trimester of pregnancy were medically inaccurate.
After receiving this state-mandated counseling, women must wait 24 hours before accessing abortion care.
An expert panel convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in 2018 found that requiring a waiting period before receiving an abortion may increase both the risk of complications for the patient and cost of the procedure, with no evidence that waiting periods improve abortion safety.
A minor’s parent or guardian must be provided 24 hours notice the abortion is to be performed.
Judicial bypass is available in Georgia for minors that wish to forgo this requirement. The only exception to the rule is a medical emergency.
Georgia limits abortions after 20 weeks post fertilization (22 weeks since last menstrual period). The majority of the women affected by the ban are already members vulnerable populations. A ban on abortion after 20 weeks disproportionately hurts women and families who face some of the most medically complex situations imaginable.
Abortion Refusal Laws
A refusal cause allows medical facilities, physicians, and pharmacists to refuse to provide abortion-related services.
Any pharmacist who objects in writing on moral or religious grounds may not be required to fill a prescription for a medication intended to cause an abortion. In addition, the law does not require the refusing individual to notify the person affected.
In 2015, a miscarrying woman was turned away from a Walmart pharmacy in Georgia for requesting misoprostol to manage her miscarriage. Misoprostol is commonly used to induce abortion, which led the woman to conclude that she was rejected by the pharmacist on religious or moral grounds.
Young Women’s Access to Abortion
Parental consent is required for minors to be able to obtain an abortion.
Judicial bypass is available in Georgia for minors that wish to forgo this requirement.
In 2017, a proposed bill in the Georgia Senate would require a court to find “clear and convincing evidence” that the minor 1) was mature enough to make the decision on their own or that 2) the notice to a parent or guardian may not be in the best interest of the minor. This higher standards for minors to prove may be prohibitive in accessing waivers court, especially with conservative judges.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs, also known as “fake clinics”) do not adhere to national medical practice or ethical standards. There are currently 90 CPCs operating in Georgia, more than three times the number of abortion facilities.
Georgia funds directly funds fake clinics with taxpayer dollars through the “Georgia Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program” administered by the Department of Public Health. In FY’17, CPCs are eligible to receive up to $2 million through the grant program. The state also supports CPCs through the sale of “Choose Life” license plates.
Multiple studies have found that Georgia CPC services do not adhere to national recommendations for providing quality family planning services and high levels of inaccurate and misleading health information on Georgia CPC websites, which could pose risk.