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“Because of state-level abortion restrictions for people working to make ends meet and those living and working in rural areas, some people have limited access to abortion care. Whereas, people in states with democratic policies have increased access to care. Today in America, we have inequitable access to reproductive healthcare.”

Photo by Nadia Soifer and used with permission.

Now That The ‘Heartbeat Bill’ is Law, What’s Next For Women? A Q&A With Atlanta Women’s Center’s Roxanne Sutocky

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As of July 22, 2022, a federal appeals court ruled that Georgia’s “Heartbeat Law” could immediately take effect, banning most abortions. The new “Heartbeat Law” will prohibit abortions as soon as cardiac activity is recorded and monitored. Last month’s Supreme Court decision allowed this state legislation to take effect. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade, I was shocked, stunned, and enraged. The idea of self-autonomy and one’s ability to regulate their own reproductive choices has now been stripped away by the Supreme Court’s ruling. As an advocate for women’s rights, I felt left out, unheard, upset, and afraid of a new America where certain states can choose to ban abortion and penalize it as they wish. 

Because a federal court allowed this Georgia law to ban abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, there is a surge in protests as well that led to responses from Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams. On Wednesday, Stacy Abrams said that she would support legislation that would protect the right to an abortion “before the point of fetal viability” if she’s elected our state’s first Democratic governor. Brian Kemp, on the other hand, is overjoyed about signing, stating this bill to be the “toughest abortion bill in the country.” Kemp’s law can allow for prosecutors to criminalize women who have gotten abortions or miscarried as well.

This interview with Roxanne Sutocky was conducted last month 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 Sutocky because she is a worker and the media representative at the Atlanta Women’s Center, an abortion clinic.

This interview was edited for clarity and grammar.  

Q: 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?

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A: “Roe v. Wade” was monumental because it was the first time we had constitutional protections for legal abortion. Abortion became accessible to individuals throughout the country. Before, people had to travel across the United States to access care, and this case has been hugely important. However, throughout the years, we have seen the government chipping away at the protections provided by the precedent. Because of state-level abortion restrictions for people working to make ends meet and those living and working in rural areas, some people have limited access to abortion care. Whereas, people in states with democratic policies have increased access to care. Today in America, we have inequitable access to reproductive healthcare. 

Q: How does restricting access to abortion affect those from poor socioeconomic conditions and POC (People of Color)?

A: Abortion has already been put out of reach for [many] low-income people, POC, and indigenous people. Making abortion illegal can have significant harm to those people. Low-income folks and those likely to live in areas heavily surveilled by strict law enforcement will be severely affected. We will see more investigations into the outcomes of these forced pregnancies, and people might be jailed for managing their abortions outside of the healthcare system.

Q: Why do you think certain Supreme Court members and citizens are eager to overturn this case?

A: There is a big push from fundamentalist Christians who believe abortion is wrong. However, abortion restrictions should not be dictated by a majority-based religion because it doesn’t reflect the full diversity in belief systems and individuals across the country. People will not be able to make the decisions best for their life when they are restricted from accessing abortion care. Restricting abortion is reproductive coercion because it takes people’s power from them and makes it easier for them to subjugate folks. 

Q: Are there any risks to having an abortion?

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A: Pregnancy in itself is a medical condition. There will be risks involved because it is a medical procedure. There is also medical stigma based on unfounded facts. Right now, we also have a high maternal mortality crisis. To force someone to continue their pregnancy against their will is unjust and brutal when we know it can be a death sentence for them. The overturning of “Roe vs. Wade” will only lead to systemic inequities and biases against the healthcare equity system.

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About Priya Venkatesan

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Priya Venkatesan (pronouns she/they) is 17 years old, attends Walton High School and likes writing poetry....

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