City of Atlanta to amp up support for abortion access with $300K donation

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, the city of Atlanta is on track to donate $300,000 to an organization that helps women get the support and money they need for abortions, including out-of-state travel.

With the donation to the National Network of Abortion Funds, which it set to be approved by the City Council in August, the city hopes to help offset the impact of Georgia’s 2019 abortion law that could go into effect within weeks.

The National Network of Abortion Funds supports Access Reproductive Care-Southeast, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that provides “financial and practical support, including lifts to appointments and travel and accommodation” for people seeking abortions, the resolution states.

“As public servants, we have to do everything we can to help make sure that people stay alive and have access to the health care that they deserve,” said Councilmember Liliana Bakhtiari, the lead sponsor of the measure. “It’s a very unconventional time, and while some people would say that this might be stepping outside of our boundaries, I would say that these times are unprecedented and we have to do something, because we can’t just sit by and do nothing.”

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Georgia’s 2019 “Heartbeat” law outlaws abortion in most cases once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity, typically about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant.

In the weeks since the Supreme Court overturned constitutional protections for abortion and left the decision up to the states, Georgia’s law has been tied up in the courts and has not gone into effect, but a federal court is expected to rule on it in the coming days or weeks.

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

If Georgia’s abortion law goes into effect, it would limit the services local abortion clinics provide.

“If we have a six-week ban … more folks are going to have to travel out of state for care,” said Allison Coffman, the executive director of the Amplify Georgia Collaborative, which is comprised of several reproductive justice organizations, including ARC-Southeast.

The organization runs a hotline for people across the Southeast seeking abortions. Coffman said the city’s donation could go toward providing logistical and financial help for flights, gas, child care and hotel stays. Nothing in Georgia’s 2019 abortion law explicitly restricts traveling out of state to get an abortion after six weeks.

“This is a huge step in actually creating material change,” she said.

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The money is coming from a fund in the general budget that has not been allocated to a specific department. (Atlanta’s city charter allows the council to donate funds to nonprofit organizations for charitable purposes.)

Bakhtiari, a first-term councilmember who used to be a public affairs manager for Planned Parenthood Southeast, said she hopes other local governments in Georgia follow with their own donations to abortion funds. After the council passed a measure in June urging Atlanta police to investigations into abortions their “lowest possible priority,” several other cities followed suit with their own resolutions.

“This helps make up the financial gap for people who are already being hit really hard by the cost of living,” Bakhtiari said. Eleven additional councilmembers have signed on in support of the donation, which a City Council committee unanimously voted to advance Tuesday.