Opinion: With Roe likely soon gone, our work just now begins

ABORTION RULING ANNIVERSARY--Pro-abortion and anti-abortion protestors rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Thousands of abortion opponents are facing wind chills in the single digits to rally and march on Capitol Hill to protest legalized abortion, with a signal of support from Pope Francis. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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ABORTION RULING ANNIVERSARY--Pro-abortion and anti-abortion protestors rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Thousands of abortion opponents are facing wind chills in the single digits to rally and march on Capitol Hill to protest legalized abortion, with a signal of support from Pope Francis. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

From an abortion opponent

The political world was shaken last week when a working draft of the majority opinion for the U.S. Supreme Court’s pending Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Healthcare case was leaked to the media. The draft decision, which excoriates the core tenets of legalized abortion and the many fallacies of the Roe v. Wade decision concludes with words once thought unattainable: “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled.”

Being the largest pro-life organization in Georgia and a leading voice on conservative policy in the state, many have asked us whether this decision, should it be the court’s final decision, spells the conclusion of our many years of hard work.

The simple answer is, “No.” But, without the stranglehold of Roe and Casey, our work can finally now begin.

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Martha Zoller

Credit: contributed

Martha Zoller

Credit: contributed

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Martha Zoller

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

Most people don’t realize that Georgia’s historic Heartbeat Bill from 2019 did far more than ban abortions. It defined human personhood as starting at the moment of fertilization so that the state could more widely extend protections to preborn babies and pregnant women.

For example, the Heartbeat Bill would provide a preborn child tax exemption on your state income taxes – providing a tax break for expectant families the year before birth. It also includes the ability for women to ask a judge to order an unsupportive father to pay child support for a baby in the womb, giving her critical support she needs during a vulnerable time. Finally, it includes expanded civil legal protections for pregnant women who lose their unborn baby due to negligence from others.

All of these pro-woman, pro-family protections are on hold in Georgia because pro-abortion activists say having the audacity to recognize a baby in the womb as a person violates the core tenets of Roe and would result in abortion access being restricted.

The frustrating thing is that they are right. Because it is only logical that abortion should be illegal if the baby in the womb is a biologically unique human person (as all credible geneticists and biologists agree they are), then allowing our law to stand would strike down the right to abortion. And, as the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said in December, should the Supreme Court rule in Dobbs to overrule Roe, then that’s precisely what they will do with our Heartbeat Bill.

Thankfully, that appears to be exactly what will happen. If the Supreme Court makes this decision final, then the 11th Circuit will uphold our Heartbeat Bill, and our law will immediately go into effect.

But, for the same reason that personhood in the womb necessitates abortion be restricted, it means that our work is only beginning.

Without the legal shadow of Roe constantly hanging over our heads, we are free to provide real, meaningful protections for babies, women and families as we have been working to do over the last 5 years.

For example, we have partnered with State Rep. Sharon Cooper, State Rep. Houston Gaines and Gov. Brian Kemp to ban shackling pregnant inmates, expand pregnancy Medicaid from 8 weeks to 6 months, protect medically fragile children from discrimination in end of life care, protect the developmentally disabled from discrimination in organ transplants, extend family violence legal protections to pregnant women, providing $2 million in state grant dollars for nonprofit medical pregnancy centers and provide free maternity housing for homeless pregnant women and their children. And we have much more yet to do.

This work underscores the importance of viewing the baby and the mother equally as persons in need of care, compassion, support and protection. Because, whether abortion is legal or not, their needs do not evaporate. If we look to Texas as an example, their ban on abortions last summer left women in dire need of support services from organizations that were overwhelmed and underprepared for the demand. That cannot and will not happen this summer in Georgia.

Does the leaked decision appear to be accurate? It does. Is it more likely than ever that Roe will be overturned? It sure looks that way. Will Georgia’s Heartbeat Bill finally go into effect? It absolutely will. Does that mean our job is over? Not even close.

Our work just now begins.

Martha Zoller is executive director of the Georgia Life Alliance.

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