As of July 11, 2022, abortion (up until the 22nd week of pregnancy) is still legal in Georgia.
This interview with Roula AbiSamra was conducted on June 13, prior to the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization because I wanted the opinion of an authority on reproductive health. I reached out to AbiSamra because not only is she a media representative for Amplify Georgia Collaborative, but she is also their State Campaign Manager. Amplify Georgia Collaborative is a nonprofit organization working toward making abortion safe, accessible, and affordable for everyone. This interview was conducted by phone.
This interview was edited for clarity and grammar.
VOX ATL: Hello! Thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to partake in this interview. What is your take on the Roe v. Wade case?
Roula AbiSamra: The Roe v. Wade case was decided in 1973. Now it is being challenged by the Dobbs vs. Jacksons case. The Roe v. Wade case was not a perfect outcome because it did not guarantee abortion access to everyone in America. However, it did guarantee that states cannot ban abortion in the first or second trimester.
This has changed over the years. There was a later case in 1992 called the “Casey v Planned Parenthood” case. This case stated that while the court still stands by what Roe v. Wade says, states can now add restrictions, as long as there is no undue burden created on people’s ability to have abortions. Some states have interpreted this statement very loosely. So now, we’re in a position where it might be easier or harder to get an abortion, depending on where you live, how much money you make, your socioeconomic status, etc. Roe v.
Wade was just a floor to protect the bare minimum abortion rights. I believe access to abortion is a human right: The right to decide what happens with our pregnancies should not be left up to individual states. We should all have the same rights to our bodies no matter where we live.
VOX ATL: Do you think restricting abortion could severely affect people of color and those from poor socioeconomic conditions?
AbiSamra: Yes, this is exactly right! At Amplify Georgia Collaborative, we say “people who are pregnant” and “people who can get pregnant.” Our organization strives to support and include not only women but those who identify as nonbinary and trans. People of color, people who live in rural Georgia, low-income people, and people whose families are trying to make it by the month will be severely affected. There are strict laws about involving parents or a judge; thus, accessing abortion can affect specific populations harder.
VOX ATL: Are there any risks to having abortions?
AbiSamra: Yes. A huge risk right now is that you will encounter bias or barriers. When people think about the risks of having an abortion, there are popular misconceptions and myths about the impact an abortion could have on your mental health and physical health. However, those are not true.
Based on all the research that has been combined and studied by researchers, the impacts of not having an abortion when you need or want one is severe. Some risks and effects last for years if you cannot have an abortion when trying to get one. That will impact your mental health, financial health, and economic stability. The mental health of your children, other children in the house, and the child you were forced to give birth to will also be affected negatively.
In some cases, with research going back decades, they have even found that those children had more difficult family lives with their children. Of course, it’s possible to have a child you weren’t prepared to have and still have a good and healthy life. However, having a child you were unprepared for makes it a lot harder. Research done in this past decade has found that people who wanted to have an abortion and weren’t allowed to have one ended up with and faced more eviction, bankruptcy, and financial debt. They did not have as much ability to follow their life plans and desires for themselves and their family. They had more relationship difficulties and had a harder time leaving relationships that were unhealthy or violent.
VOX ATL: If the Roe v. Wade case is overturned*, what do you think the consequences of it would be?
[*Editor’s note: Roe was overturned with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs on June 24.]
AbiSamra: As I said, the consequences would be that each state now is allowed to make their own laws. They could say anything they want that doesn’t interfere with their other laws… So basically, what I’m saying is that if Roe v. Wade is* overturned, we don’t have any more protection that says everybody has a minimum standard of how we’re going to be treated equally. We don’t have the assurance that wherever we live in the country, we don’t have the right to decide what will happen with our pregnancies.
Instead, we have some states where it may be a crime to have an abortion, or a certain kind of abortion or an abortion for a specific reason. It could be that the provider or the person who helped me have an abortion has to pay a hefty fine. They might have to go to jail. All of these are unacceptable because when you introduce more penalties for doing what you need to do for your health, you cannot make the best life for yourself.
I think in Georgia, we would see Gov. Brian Kemp enforce our six-week abortion ban if the case is overturned. Likely, the 11th Circuit will lift its ban and the new law will prohibit abortions as soon as cardiac activity is recorded and monitored. Currently, however, the “Heartbeat law” is not in place, and abortions (up to the 22nd week in pregnancy) is legal in Georgia…
The last year I have data for, in 2020, there were about 37,000 abortions in Georgia. That number of people are still going to need abortions; they are going to have to find care in whatever way is available, and those options will be fewer. Thus, when you have fewer options and have to delay abortion, it makes it less safe and less financially possible, and it means some of us are not going to have many options available. We’re going to have to have our lives drastically changed by people who have never even met us.
*Now that Roe has been overturned, AbiSamra suggests the following resources for credible information and /or resources for reproductive health:
abortionislegalingeorgia.com (updated by Amplify Georgia Collaborative)
ineedanA.com (a privately run site by A Team Tech that includes a customized search to find abortions and information on self-managed abortion)
Georgia Youth Coalition IG post: Abortion Resources (Georgia Youth Coalition, a nonprofit organization “committed to building a sustainable, supportive, and just community for youth changemaking” shared local updates by and for youth.)