DeKalb Commissioners Postpone Resolution Protecting Abortion Access – Decaturish

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This story has been updated.

Decatur, Georgia — The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners at its Oct. 25 meeting postponed a resolution protecting abortion access and reproductive health, rights, and justice in the county until November.

Commissioner Ted Terry said the Employee Relations and Public Safety Committee has been working on a revised version of the resolution and will discuss the alternate at the next committee meeting.

“[The] the substitute must be discussed in committee, and we ran out of time during the last ERPS committee, so it is on [the] agenda next Tuesday,” Terry told Decaturish.

The Council of Commissioners will take up the matter at its second meeting in November. The resolution was presented to the committee on August 2 and was postponed four times by council.

According The resolution posted on the county’s website, the county condemns the misapplication of criminal laws to punish people for their pregnancy outcomes; affirms that people deserve to have access to quality health care without fear of reprisal or punishment; and condemns the criminalization of the provision of essential health care, including abortion care.

The resolution also states that DeKalb County:

– Affirms the ethical obligations of healthcare providers to protect patient privacy;

– Declares a vision for a future where access to abortion and gender-affirming care is universally free from restrictions, prohibitions and barriers, and where people are able to manage care on their own terms, without discrimination or punishment;

– Ensure that all people have the economic, social and political power and resources to make informed decisions about their bodies, sexuality and reproduction for themselves, their families and their communities in all areas of their lives ; and

– Affirms DeKalb County’s commitment to working toward these goals in partnership with patients, providers, advocates and their communities.

The county also supports the county district attorney, as she advised his office not to pursue abortion related cases.

The resolution further states that the county urges state legislators to protect and promote access to reproductive health care and the right to abortion care by promoting preventive health care services and ensuring that everyone have access to comprehensive and affordable health care.

“Finally, be it further resolved that we pause in our deliberations to declare DeKalb County a safe zone for sexual and reproductive health care, guaranteeing people’s rights to reproductive freedom and designating those rights as fundamentals”, says the resolution.

During the meeting, commissioners received several public comments urging them to pass the resolution to decriminalize abortion in the county.

Allison Coffman, executive director of Amplify Georgia Collaborative, urged the committee to stop delaying the vote and pass the resolution.

“I am proud to live in one of Georgia’s largest and most diverse counties and want to see county leaders stand up for the right of its constituents to access comprehensive reproductive health care. , including abortion care, without fear of criminalization,” Coffman says. “As someone who has been through multiple miscarriages and a complicated pregnancy, I am afraid of the impact Georgia HB 481 could have on the care my OBGYN can provide if I decide to have another child. ”

House Bill 481 went into effect over the summer and bans most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. The law also classifies embryos as having “personality” rights, according to WABE.

“This change creates confusion among medical providers about what care they can offer pregnant women in the event of complications,” Coffman said. “It is very important to know that our local elected officials will not participate in the intimidation and possible criminalization of people who provide support or access reproductive health care.”

Rachel Wasserman urged commissioners to protect abortion rights.

“Each of us should be able to live, work and make decisions about our health and our future with dignity and without fear of criminalization,” Wasserman said. “HB 481 was allowed to go into effect in July. This bill prohibits abortion after fetal heart activity around six weeks of pregnancy and defines a fetus as a person under Georgia law. The bill explicitly criminalizes abortion providers and can be used to criminalize people who seek out or support others to seek abortion care.

She added that counties and cities have a responsibility to prevent the criminalization of their residents for decisions regarding pregnancy.

“DeKalb County should commit to devoting no resources to investigating or prosecuting those providing or seeking abortion care, and directing law enforcement to do the same. No one deserves to be criminalized for seeking essential health care,” Wasserman said. “The DeKalb County government authority has a responsibility to preserve and expand opportunities for all to thrive, which includes the ability to access sexual and reproductive health care. Health care is a right fundamental human being and should never be banned or criminalized.

Eliza Barnett added that people seeking abortion care should be discouraged from accessing services because a law aims to “control their bodies and their medical decisions”.

“As a student of public health and an advocate for global access to safe, affordable, and compassionate abortion care, I believe decriminalizing abortion in DeKalb County would help allay the fears of people who fear that the outcome of their pregnancy or self-managed abortions will put them at risk. legal issues,” Barnett said. “Criminalizing the bodies of people who could get pregnant will lead to fear, unsafe abortions and persistent health inequities, especially for those with poor access to reproductive health care.”

Some DeKalb residents have also called on council not to pass the resolution protecting reproductive freedom. Iris McCoy said unborn children have the right to live.

“They are human beings like us. Please protect their right to life. Women should not be criminalized for having abortions. If they make the decision to have an abortion, it is often because they are under great pressure because of their situation, pressure from their family, etc. They need compassion and support,” McCoy said. “I hope they will receive information about alternatives to abortion, as well as the support and assistance available.”

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