Sixth Moral Monday Focuses on Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights
Photograph by Gloria Tatum
(APN) ATLANTA — The sixth Moral Monday Georgia came on a Tuesday last week, when on February 25, 2014, about one hundred Georgians representing some thirty-five organizations rallied at the State Capitol for women’s health and reproductive rights.
The event, called “Walk in My Shoes, Hear Our Voice,” protested proposed bills that activists say are discriminatory, restrictive, and dangerous to women’s health.
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, there have in previous years been annual rallies at the Capitol focusing on women’s rights, including the Walk for Women’s Lives.
Most, if not all, of the repressive bills are based on templates written by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and then introduced by conservative legislators in State Legislatures throughout the country.
“We will not go back to a time when people died from preventable and treatable illnesses, while the impoverished are judged are punished for their circumstances rather than offered help. We will not go back to a time when we were without full access to contraception and safe abortion, or when our reproductive decisions were not our own,” Kwajelyn Jackson, Community Engagement Coordinator for the Feminist Women’s Health Center, said. .
The Georgia General Assembly has advanced numerous bills that would reverse essential rights or deny access to health care. Here are some examples of repressive and regressive bills to which activists called attention:
SB 377 and HB 1023: As APN will address under separate cover, these bills allow people to offer a religious freedom defense if they do not follow a state or local law that they say burdens them by conflicting with their religious beliefs.
SB 98 would limit coverage that Georgians purchase with their own money through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange that provides comprehensive reproductive health care benefits, including abortion. The bill would alter Georgians’ insurance coverage and remove those benefits, with dangerously narrow medical emergency exceptions.
HB 772 would require food stamp applicants to be tested for controlled substances at their own expense; those who fail the tests would be ineligible for food stamps.
SB 334 and HB 707 would prohibit any local or state government entities from expending any resources in educating or influencing citizens in support of Medicaid expansion in Georgia, or implementing the insurance exchange provision of the Affordable Care Act. For example, state employees would be prohibited from referring people to the ACA exchange website or phone number. This would create barriers for poor people to access affordable healthcare.
HB 990 would require Legislative approval to expand Medicaid, prohibiting Gov. Nathan Deal from using the executive authority that he otherwise has. As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, this bill apparently seeks to shield Gov. Deal from the responsibility for, and political consequences of, denying people affordable health care.
“Today in Georgia more than 650,000 people are uninsured and don’t have healthcare coverage. If our governor would change his mind and expand Medicaid, this would change that health destiny for those people,” Malika Redmond, Executive Director of SPARK Reproductive.Justice Now, said.
“For too long, our elected officials have continued to suppress the voices and rights of Georgia women, families, working class people, and minority groups through crippling legislation. Many of those suppression tools… [have been] introduced by male representatives who have no intentions of moving against the traditional Southern oppression,” La’Die Mansfield, representative of Moral Monday Georgia, said.