At Choice USA, we make habit of talking about older politicians’ assaults on youth’s reproductive agency. We’re so accustomed to these attacks against comprehensive sex education and birth control accessibility that it would be surprising to see politicians infringe upon their own right to choose.
But that’s exactly what’s happening in Georgia.
The newly-minted Senate Bill 98 seeks to restrict birth control accessibility among state employees who receive insurance benefits. The bill blatantly states that, “No abortion coverage shall be provided” and that it “would provided certain exceptions” to that abortion restriction.
While SB 98 seems like an attempt to manage the debt caused by Georgia’s recession by decreasing government spending, it’s a classic example of sex discrimination via legislation. You would never see a bill restricting access to funding for vasectomies, erectile dysfunction prescriptions, or any other male-centric procedure. So why do that with abortion coverage?
SB 98 is sponsored by six male senators, all of whom are republican–Georgia has one republican woman in its senate, but Renee Unterman’s name cannot be found anywhere on this new legislation. These six men are a part of the current 38 to 18 republican majority which has a firm grasp on the Georgia Senate.
Why the emphasis on these senators’ party affiliation?
Since the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe vs. Wade in 1971, Georgia Republicans have historically worked intimately with the anti-choice movement and its lobbyists, Georgia Right To Life (GRTL) being the largest of these nonprofits. If you’ve been following ChoiceWords for a minute, you might’ve remembered me mentioning Georgia’s recent ban on abortions after 20 weeks. GRTL’s influence was largely responsible for this legislation.
Take a wild guess who is also responsible for SB 98. Yep! Good ol’ GRTL. Of course, GRTL’s name alone reeks from contradiction: They are not interested whatsoever in the lives of parents, or how giving birth may impact one’s existence, inside out.
I find myself wondering what those vague ‘exceptions’ outlined by SB 98 are. If a state-employed woman is experiencing a potentially lethal high-risk pregnancy, would her insurance then cover its termination? Or would she have to foot this cost out of pocket? What’s more, who gets to decide? The six senators who sponsored this bill?
Therein lies the most offensive part of this bill: If put into law, a pregnant individual in critical need of an abortion–rather than being allowed the dignity of having the procedure performed on one’s own terms–would end up being shuttled through time-consuming, potentially degrading evaluations to see if if she is categorized as an ‘exception.’ Then and only then would she be allowed to use her insurance for an abortion. To quote Stephanie Tanner from Full House, “How rude!” Georgia’s state employees are not only politicians. They are also assistants, secretaries, and custodians with salaries which vary accordingly. Many of these employees are women from working class households. These are the peach state’s stewards; our unsung heroes. We should be supporting them as they continue to support us.