Legislative Restrictions to Access to Abortion
The state of Georgia requires biased counseling that must include 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;
- 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, and contain information on fetal pain.
After receiving this counseling, women must wait 24 hours before accessing abortion care. This can add to financial difficulty by creating lodging and childcare costs, lost pay, etc.
Access to Abortion Clinics
There are currently nine specialized clinics that provide abortion in Georgia. 6 of these clinics are in the Atlanta area, while the others are in Augusta, Columbus, and Savannah.
The need for abortion clinics in rural areas prompted Summit Medical Centers to plan the opening of a low-cost women’s health facility that would offer abortions in Macon starting fall 2018. However, this decision has prompted controversy from anti-choice protesters and advocates in the area.
Health plans offered in ACA exchanges can only cover abortion in the case of incest/life endangerment.
Public funding for abortion only available in the case of life endangerment, rape, and incest.
If performing abortions after the first trimester, a provider must be licensed as a hospital, an ambulatory surgical center, or an “abortion facility” (which must also be an ambulatory surgical center).
The state restricts providers in “abortion facilities” to providing only D&E procedures. Therefore, any procedure after 13 weeks other than D&E must be provided in a hospital or an ambulatory surgical center.
Only a physician licensed by the state to practice medicine and surgery may provide abortion care.
Georgia prohibits abortions after 20 weeks.
Abortion Refusal Laws
A Georgia Abortion refusal cause allows medical facilities, physicians, and pharmacists to refuse to provide abortion 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 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.
There is no state law in Georgia that protects abortion clinics from violence.
Fake Women’s Health Centers
The state funds crisis pregnancy centers directly through taxpayer funds. The funding stream is established through the 2016 “Georgia Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program,” which awards grants to not-for-profit organizations that promote childbirth, administered by the Department of Public Health.
In FY’17, fake clinics were eligible to receive up to $2,000,000 through this funding stream.
A 2017 study in Women’s Health Issues found that most anti-choice clinics in Georgia – of which there are about 87 – offer few services beyond pregnancy testing and biased counseling.
None of the clinics’ websites advertise contraceptive methods approved by the FDA.