Atlanta City Council creates Reproductive Justice Commission

Atlanta City Council member Amir Farokhi sponsored legislation to create the Reproductive Justice Commission. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Atlanta City Council member Amir Farokhi sponsored legislation to create the Reproductive Justice Commission. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

The Atlanta City Council on Monday unanimously approved creating a commission to study how the city can improve access to reproductive health care, including abortion.

The Reproductive Justice Commission is a direct response to the state’s controversial “heartbeat” abortion law, signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in May, which would prohibit abortions once a doctor can detect a fetus’ heartbeat.

One of the nation's strictest anti-abortion measures, Georgia's heartbeat law would have outlaw abortions as early as six weeks after conception, before many women know they are pregnant. In October, a federal judge blocked the law from taking effect on Jan. 1, while a court battle plays out.

Councilman Amir Farokhi said he sponsored the council’s legislation to make city officials as educated as possible about what can be done to ensure access to reproductive health care.

Farokhi said the resolution is also a “broader challenge to cities in states like Georgia where to date the state legislature and leadership has in many ways been turning its back on those who want reproductive care.”

The resolution states that “access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion, is a basic human right that should be steadfastly afforded to all.”

It also says bans like the Georgia Heart Bill disproportionately impact African American women, people with low-incomes, immigrants, youth, seniors, and those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

The commission will have seven members, two appointed by the mayor, one appointed by the District Health Director of the Fulton County Board of Health and the rest by the city council.

The commission will meet for three years and is tasked with making recommendations to the city, whenever it chooses.

Earlier this year Farokhi successfully passed a resolution in opposition to the law.

Georgia's fight over anti-abortion legislation received national attention earlier this year. Many in the movie industry threatened to boycott filming in the state if the law goes into effect.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia has sued the state arguing the law violates a woman’s constitutional right to abortion, as established by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Many Georgia anti-abortion activists are hoping the legal challenge will make it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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