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The first bill in the General Assembly next year aims to ban abortion

The first bill in the General Assembly next year aims to ban abortion

Democratic Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, D-Lithonia, filed the first bill in the 2023 legislative session.

The first bill, tentatively introduced for the 2023 legislative session, takes aim at one of Georgia’s hottest political topics — a law that would ban abortions at about 6 weeks’ gestation.

House Bill 1 (HB 1) requires the state to pay many of the costs of childbirth and child care for mothers who would like to have an abortion, but they were prohibited from doing so by Georgia law, which prohibits the procedure after the fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Last week, Democratic state Rep. Dar’Shun Kendrick, D-Lithuania, filed the proposal, receiving the coveted designation of “HB 1.” The bill is officially called the Georgia Reproductive Responsibility Act.

Georgia’s abortion ban dates back to 2019, when the Republican-led General Assembly passed and GOP Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Federal courts have blocked the law, also known as the heartbeat bill or the pro-life bill, from taking effect immediately.

The US Supreme Court overturned a landmark decision on abortion rights Roe v. Wade a ban went into effect in Georgia last summer. Pro-choice groups have challenged the law in state courts, and the case is now before the Georgia Supreme Court.

Last week, the High Court said the law could remain in place while the case is pending.

House Bill 1 is based on the assumption that the abortion ban will remain in place. The proposal would require the state to cover a wide range of costs for mothers who would otherwise have abortions but for the ban.

These costs include medical, legal, and psychological costs associated with pregnancy and the postpartum period. The bill also requires the state to provide financial and food assistance to a woman and her child until the child reaches 18 years of age. If the mother is disabled during pregnancy, or if the child is born with a disability, the state will also cover these costs.

The law requires the state to pay alimony to an unmarried woman if the father is unable or unwilling to pay alimony. It would also require the state to fund an IRS 529 savings fund to help pay for the child’s education.

Women could qualify for the program by filing an affidavit with the state Department of Human Services that they would have had an abortion if not for Georgia’s abortion ban.

Kendrick said she filed the bill to make a point, even though she knows it has little chance of success in the state House of Representatives next year.

“If we want to say that we are a pro-life state, then we need to put our money where our mouth is, that is, on childcare, that is, on the expenses of mothers. It means helping to raise a child from birth to 18 years old, not just taking care of the nine months they’re in their mother’s womb,” Kendrick said. “We will look at where the priorities lie, because if we have a surplus, if we continue to have it, there’s no reason we can’t fund it.”

Kendrick said she has requested a fiscal analysis of how much the proposal would cost and will release that information when she has it.

“This is essentially a bill to see who is going to stand up for those principles and … who, I suspect, is really just trying to control women’s reproductive rights.”

Republicans, including Kemp, argued that the Legislature has taken steps to create a pro-life culture in the state, such as passing measures to make it easier for Georgians to accept and expanding postpartum Medicaid for new mothers for a year after giving birth.

“[We] we are committed to maintaining Georgia’s reputation as a state that protects life at all stages,” Kemp said in May as he signed legislation that allows nonprofit and faith-based organizations to create free maternity homes for pregnant women and new moms.

Republican Rep. Ed Setzler of Acworth, who sponsored the 2019 abortion bill, criticized Kendrick’s bill. (Setzler was recently elected to the state Senate and will begin his term in January after 17 years in the state House).

“After a cursory review, it is clear that Representative Kendrick is putting forward a cynical, frivolous bill that blatantly devalues ​​human life,” Setzler said.

The state legislature is scheduled to begin its 2023 session on January 9.

This story is made available through an information partnership with Capitol Beat News Servicea project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

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