Commissioner to introduce resolution decriminalizing abortion in DeKalb CountyErin Tasman holds a protest sign with her son Oliver Tosi, 2, during a demonstration at the downtown Decatur Square on Tuesday May 3, 2022 following the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. Photo by Dean Hesse.
DeKalb County, GA — The battle for reproductive freedoms is in full swing in DeKalb County.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to over turn Roe v. Wade, DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston announced she would not prosecute women who have an abortion.
On Monday, July 25, DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry said he would introduce a resolution at the Aug. 2 county commission meeting that would decriminalize abortion in the county.
Naomi Desta-Bell, Community Outreach Manager for the Feminist Women’s Health Center, sent a draft copy of the proposed resolution to Terry, who agreed to introduce it. Desta-Bell serves as Campaign Chair of the Dekalb Reproductive Justice Campaign in collaboration with Amplify Georgia, a reproductive health advocacy organization.
“My colleagues and I have drafted a proposed Resolution for DeKalb County that we would like to share with you in hopes of having similar legislation passed in DeKalb,” she said in an email to Terry.
She notes that the city of Atlanta and South Fulton have passed their own resolutions decriminalizing abortion and making violations of the law “the lowest possible priority” for police officers.
Here is the full text of the proposed resolution:
DECLARATION OF FUNDAMENTAL REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOMS
A RESOLUTION EXPRESSING THE COUNTY OF DEKALB’S SUPPORT FOR THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT’S LANDMARK DECISION IN THE CASE OF ROE V. WADE, AND ITS COMMITMENT TO PROTECT THE RIGHT TO ACCESS ABORTION CARE IN DEKALB; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
WHEREAS, on January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of Roe v. Wade that the Constitution of the United States safeguards a person’s ability to make their own personal medical decisions about when or whether to have children; and
WHEREAS, the legalization of abortion in the U.S. led to safer practices and drastically reduced the incidence of maternal deaths and hospitalizations related to abortion;
WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of the United States on June 24, 2022 overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion in the United States.
WHEREAS, Georgia passed a 6 week abortion ban on July 20, 2022 in addition to
many laws that pose extreme restrictions on the ability of its residents to access an abortion, including a a 24-hour waiting period, a parental notification requirement, and ban on health plans offered on the state’s health exchange as well as insurance policies for public employees from covering abortion care beyond very limited situations; and
WHEREAS, the harm of these abortion restrictions disproportionality impacts racial minorities, the disabled, youth, immigrants, and those experiencing financial and economic hardship; and
WHEREAS, our community is experiencing unprecedented attacks on reproductive autonomy, freedom, and justice at both the federal and state levels of government;
WHEREAS, people in the United States and Dekalb County have been forced to undergo unwanted medical procedures or surgical interventions, including involuntary sterilization and cesarean sections, prosecuted for not seeking healthcare, prosecuted for experiencing a miscarriage or stillbirth, criminalized for alcohol and drug use during pregnancy, and prosecuted for self-managing an abortion;
WHEREAS, access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, contraception, prenatal care, labor and delivery services, and postpartum care, are necessary for people’s overall health, and health care is a fundamental human right.
WHEREAS, the only thing that restrictions and bans on abortion do is prevent people from accessing healthcare;
WHEREAS, reproductive justice is defined as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”
WHEREAS, groups like the American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Bar Association, and others oppose the criminalization of health care provision and the criminalization of pregnancy outcomes;
WHEREAS, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States, and experts at the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine published a study in 2018 confirming that scientific evidence consistently indicates that legal abortions in the U.S., including those performed in the second trimester, are extremely safe and that medically unnecessary regulations of abortion can diminish the quality of abortion care by contributing to the decline of facilities that provide abortion, needlessly delaying abortion, and making it unnecessarily difficult to access abortion care;
WHEREAS, the Dekalb County and the Dekalb County Board of Commissioners share a commitment to preserving and expanding opportunities for all to thrive;
WHEREAS, our ability to access sexual and reproductive health care and resources directly impacts our emotional, physical, and socioeconomic stability and safety, and healthcare is a fundamental human right;
WHEREAS, access to gender-affirming full-spectrum and comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, contraception, prenatal care, labor and delivery services, and postpartum care, are necessary for the overall health and well-being of all people of all genders;
WHEREAS, reproductive and sexual health care providers provide high-quality, essential healthcare and play a critical role in ensuring people are able to make decisions about their bodies and lives with dignity, empathy, compassion, and respect;
WHEREAS, no one should be criminalized for providing essential healthcare;
WHEREAS, no one should be criminalized for their pregnancy outcomes, for using contraception, or for obtaining gender-affirming care;
WHEREAS, the threat of criminalization or prosecution can result in negative outcomes by intimidating people from seeking or providing care;
WHEREAS, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, people with low incomes, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized individuals are disproportionately likely to be surveilled, arrested, charged, prosecuted, convicted, and heavily punished within the criminal justice system;
WHEREAS, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, people with low incomes, women and LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized individuals are more likely, due to persistent disparities, to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes that place them under the scrutiny of the criminal legal system and at risk of experiencing violence at the hands of the criminal legal system;
WHEREAS, the right to maintain personal bodily autonomy and the ability to make personal decisions about if, when, and how to establish a family, including decisions about abortion, are fundamental to our reproductive freedom;
WHEREAS, research shows there is an increased need and demand for pills to self-manage an abortion in states with abortion restrictions, and that self-managed abortion with access to medications and accurate information is safe;
WHEREAS, the reasons why people self-manage an abortion are varied and valid;
WHEREAS, healthcare providers have an ethical obligation to provide essential care to their patients and to protect the private medical information integral to the patient-provider relationship;
WHEREAS, the ability to access medically accurate information about all of our healthcare options, without judgment, harassment, or coercion is fundamental to our reproductive freedom;
WHEREAS, the ability to have a safe and healthy pregnancy on our own terms is fundamental to our future and our collective reproductive freedom;
WHEREAS, a “Sexual and Reproductive Health Care Safe Zone” is one where people do not have to worry about local interference in their personal healthcare decisions, are not investigated by local officials for pregnancy outcomes (be it a miscarriage, abortion, or carrying a pregnancy to term), do not have their private health information (e.g., menstruation tracking apps) tracked or collected, and the local government exercises its authority where possible to prevent people from being harassed and intimidated and harmed while traveling to, entering, or leaving an an abortion clinic;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Dekalb County
1. Condemns the misapplication of criminal laws to punish people for the outcomes of their pregnancies;
2. Affirms that people deserve access to high-quality healthcare without fear of reprisal or punishment;
3. Condemns the criminalization of providing essential healthcare, including abortion care;
4. Affirms the ethical obligations of healthcare providers to safeguard patient privacy;
5. Declares a vision for a future where access to abortion and gender-affirming care is universally free from restrictions, bans, and barriers, and people are able to manage care on their own terms free from discrimination or punishment;
6. Ensures all people have the economic, social, and political power and resources to make informed decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction for themselves, their families, and their communities in all areas of their lives; and
7. Affirms Dekalb County’s commitment to working toward these goals in partnership with patients, providers, advocates, and their communities.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Dekalb County urges the Georgia General Assembly to join other states in protecting and promoting access to reproductive health care and the fundamental right to abortion by doing the following: (1) promoting preventive healthcare services for all; and (2) ensuring every individual has access to comprehensive, affordable healthcare that includes pregnancy-related care, including prenatal care, miscarriage management, family planning services, abortion care, labor and delivery services, and post-partum care; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the [ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT/TITLE] to the Dekalb County shall cause a copy of this resolution to be sent to [RELEVANT U.S. SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES FROM NC]; Governor Brian Kemp; [RELEVANT BILL SPONSORS]; and [ALLIED STATE LEGISLATORS].
FINALLY, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we pause in our deliberations to declare Dekalb County a sexual and reproductive health care safe zone, ensuring the people’s rights to reproductive freedom, and naming these rights as fundamental.
Want Decaturish delivered to your inbox every day? Sign up for our free newsletter by clicking here.