LGBTQ lawmakers: Abortion ban a ‘death sentence’ for Georgia women

LGBTQ lawmakers vowed to hold Gov. Brian Kemp accountable for signing an abortion ban into law, saying that he “failed the women of Georgia.”

Kemp signed House Bill 481 on Tuesday at the state Capitol. The bill bans most abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which happens at about six weeks.

Rep. Park Cannon, a Democrat from Atlanta who is one of the Georgia's five openly LGBTQ lawmakers, said that the bill wouldn’t go into effect until January. 

“What we want you to know right now is no one can criminalize a physician,” Cannon (photo) said during a press conference Tuesday held by Democratic lawmakers (see below). “No one can stop you from entering a clinic, and no one can stop you from making it clear that your life matters too.”

“We stand here with you as elected officials to hold Gov. Kemp and the GOP responsible for what happens to women in Georgia,” she added.

Rep. Renitta Shannon, a Democrat from Decatur who is also one of the five openly LGBTQ members, said Kemp “turned back the clock in Georgia by a half century.”

“Whether they know it or not, this is an attack on all women,” Shannon said. “All miscarriages will be subject to suspicion of criminality, and instead of seeking immediate care, women will be weighing if seeking care could mean being criminalized.”

“This bill is not pro-life, but a death sentence for women whose viability of life is not in dispute,” she added.

Reps. Erica Thomas, Sandra Scott and Darshun Kendrick, all LGBTQ allies, also attended Tuesday’s press conference.

Cannon said there will be legal challenges to the ban.

“The fact of the matter is, House Bill 481 is not yet enforceable,” she said. “There will be lawsuits. There will be judicial injunctions.”

The ACLU of Georgia will file a lawsuit to block the ban before it goes into effect, according to Sean Young, the group’s out legal director. He called the ban “clearly unconstitutional.”

“The governor has declared a war on reproductive health,” Young told Project Q Atlanta. “Georgia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the nation, and to jeopardize the healthcare of women across Georgia is the height of irresponsibility.”

Shannon said that Kemp’s signing of the bill has consequences for all Georgia residents.

“Gov. Kemp had the chance to do the right thing and veto this intrusive bill, but he failed,” she said. “He not only failed the women of Georgia, but he also failed every taxpayer who will have to pay to defend this draconian law in court.”

Cannon and Shannon spoke out against HB 481 during a House session in March. Cannon discussed getting an abortion after being sexually assaulted in 2010, and how some people believe they can “rape [LGBTQ people] straight.”

Shannon went over her allotted time to speak in the well of the House of Representatives and was removed by security. 

Cannon hit back at the House passing the bill by proposing a measure that would require men to tell police when they’ve had sex.

LGBTQ lawmakers, activists and political operatives issued an open letter calling on Georgia’s business community to speak out against the bill.