Family planning bill passes Ga. General Assembly

A family planning bill passed the Georgia General Assembly Thursday, the last day of the legislative session.

Senate Bill 308, sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, would establish a grant program through the state Department of Public Health to promote pregnancy and parenting services as alternatives to abortion. Under the legislation, pregnancy resource centers could not use grant funds to refer clients to clinics that provide abortions or counsel women to get abortions unless their pregnancies are life-threatening.

Unterman has called the legislation a “positive alternative” to restricting access to abortions. The senator estimated there are 27,000 abortions each year in the state.

“Hopefully [pregnancy resource centers] can expand and decrease the number of abortions that we have in the state of Georgia,” Unterman said earlier this month during a House hearing for the legislation.

SB 308 would require centers to register as nonprofits and submit annual audits by the Department of Public Health. The bill would prohibit centers from using grant funds to provide “counseling or written material” that includes political or faith-based content.

Opponents of the bill argue the legislation would provide taxpayer funds to pregnancy resource centers with questionable quality of care. Some opponents have expressed concerns that not all centers have medical professionals on-site for examinations.

The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal.

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