Hundreds Protest Supreme Court Abortion Ruling in Athens
Abortion is still legal in Georgia as of this writing, but new restrictions are likely to take effect within weeks.
Republican-appointed justices on the U.S. Supreme Court issued a long-rumored decision Friday, June 24 striking down the abortion rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade. The same day, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr asked a federal appeals court to let Georgia’s six-week abortion ban take effect. Both the state and the plaintiff, the ACLU of Georgia, have 21 days to file briefs in the case. The 2019 “heartbeat bill,” which bans abortions at the point when an embryo’s cardiac activity can be detected (about six weeks after conception), was ruled unconstitutional last year. But with Roeoverturned, that is likely no longer the case—states have free reign to restrict or ban abortion. In the meantime, abortion remains legal in Georgia up to 20 weeks after fertilization or 22 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period.
Several hundred people gathered in College Square early Saturday afternoon to protest the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling, outnumbering the small crowds around AthFest stages a few blocks away. They stayed under the sweltering sun for two hours chanting slogans and listening to speakers from local left-wing political groups.
Erin Stacer, co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America’s Athens chapter, advised those who are upset about Dobbs to donate to the Athens Reproductive Justice Collective, to unionize and get involved with other economic and civil rights groups, such as the Economic Justice Coalition and the Athens Pride + Queer Collective.
People should be prepared to take to the streets, to walk off their jobs in protest and to get arrested, Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Mariah Parker said. “We have to be willing to put it all on the line, because it’s all on the line already,” they said.
Commissioner Mariah Parker speaks at an abortion rights rally June 25 in College Square.
A statement released by the ACC Democratic Committee called Dobbs a “devastating” and “dangerous” ruling by a “reckless” Supreme Court that will endanger lives.
“In Georgia, Republican elected officials such as Brian Kemp, Houston Gaines, Marcus Weidower, Frank Ginn and Bill Cowsert passed HB 481, which will likely now outlaw abortion after 6 weeks,” the statement said. “These same Georgia Republicans have voted for policies that consistently give Georgia one of the highest infant mortality rates and the second highest rate of maternal mortality in the country. These same Georgia Republicans have voted to needlessly keep 500,000 struggling Georgians from receiving health insurance. These same Georgia Republicans have made policy decisions that resulted in eight rural hospitals shuttering their doors.