NOTICE: Georgia Must Strengthen Health and Safety Network Ecosystem Ahead of 11th Circuit Ruling
ATLANTA – In response to the US Court of Appeals for 11th The Circuit’s decision last week to allow Georgia House Bill 481 to go into effect after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. WadeThe Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) released the following statement:
Georgia’s safety net is already failing, and these court actions will make it even more difficult for women and births to access the health care they need. Georgia’s health and social safety net ecosystem for those who can become pregnant has been weak for decades, and the state continues to have high rates of maternal and infant mortality, which disproportionately affect women and children of blacks and those living in rural communities. Georgians deserve access to abortion and programs that allow everyone to fully thrive – both of which must be true for us to achieve economic justice for all.
“It is imperative to recognize the implications of the Dobbs decision and the actions of the 11thth the county will have on Georgia women and people giving birth, especially black and brown Georgia women, who already face substantial barriers to health care access and economic stability. Georgia lawmakers have refused to adequately invest in child care infrastructure, ignored opportunities to invest in Georgia families and workers, and failed to support Georgia’s safety net framework. HB 481 and its restriction of access to safe abortions will only serve as another barrier implemented by state leaders to limit access to health care,” said GBPI President and CEO Staci Fox. “GBPI is an evidence-based organization and the fact is that abortion is part of the full spectrum of comprehensive and evidence-based health care. As we continue to push for the restoration of full reproductive rights, there are many policy changes that can better support people now to have children (or not have children) and to parent those children in Georgia. Abortion must be legal and accessible in Georgia, and our state must fully and equitably fund all programs that support children, people who give birth, and their families.”
Evaluations of the National Partnership for Women and Families that approximately 870,900 women of reproductive age in Georgia are economically insecure, meaning they live in a household below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. This decision removes access to health care, limits people’s reproductive choices, and has harmful implications for women, people who give birth, and children. With the abortion ban, strengthening Georgia’s health and social safety net ecosystem should be a top priority.
GBPI recommends the following policies as starting points in Georgia’s investment in women and families:
The Affordable Care Act made it possible for Georgia to expand access to Medicaid to anyone whose income is below 138% of the federal poverty level, but state lawmakers have failed to pass full Medicaid expansion — leaving thousands Georgians of reproductive age without access to basic health. careful. Fully expanding Medicaid can increase access to contraception and preconception care, stabilize rural health providers, and help address our state’s dismal maternal and infant mortality rates.
Expanding access to paid permits
A comprehensive paid sick and family leave policy would improve worker retention, mental and physical health, and economic well-being for those who may become pregnant and their families. Research shows that a lack of paid leave can negatively impact worker retention and can limit the time working mothers want to breastfeed their babies.
Georgia does not have a paid family sick leave program that supports all workers in the state. In 2021, the General Assembly passed HB 146, only three weeks of paid parental leave for state employees, University System of Georgia and public school employees.
About 43 percent of black workers and 25 percent of Latino workers have access to any paid parental leave. Many black people can’t even take advantage of the unpaid family sick leave law.
- This stems from occupational segregation, where women, especially women of color, are more likely to work in jobs that pay below a living wage and offer no benefits.
- Gender discrimination in employment is also compounded by race and ethnicity, with women of color far more likely to face discrimination based on gender and race.
Furthermore, in Georgia, FMLA is unavailable to the majority (59%) of all working adults, either because they are not eligible or because they cannot afford to take unpaid leave.
Making childcare affordable and accessible
Making childcare affordable and accessible to more families can make it easier for those who might become pregnant to balance their caregiving responsibilities, allowing them to enter or stay in the workforce and advance. their career. The most recent data shows that about 1 in 7 Georgia children who have income eligible for child care assistance can access subsidies.
While Georgia has temporarily expanded its Child Care and Parenting Services program (subsidies) using federal aid dollars, many families are still left out, making child care a high expense for many mothers.
Establishing a state earned income tax credit, or a Georgia work credit
Women make up 48 percent of Georgia’s workforce, but are more likely to work in low-wage fields. Black women are more likely than white women to be in low-wage sectors, further widening wage gaps and making it difficult to keep costs down.
Taking the Georgia Work Credit, a state earned income tax credit, can provide a modest pay raise that helps their wages go further toward covering their rent and bills or saving for a rainy day. It can also help women who own small businesses because it raises the wages of home workers and leads to a ripple effect, with more in their community frequenting their business.
Implementing Inclusive Sex Education in Georgia Schools
Comprehensive sexuality education can prevent unintended pregnancies, and well-designed courses can reduce risky behaviors and improve health outcomes for students. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed Georgia’s policies on school-based sexual health education and found numerous areas that need to be addressed to align the law with evidence-based practices.
GBPI calls on our legislators to enact proactive policies that support women and people who give birth at every stage of their lives and regardless of their role in our economy, while also eradicating the racial disparities that exacerbate these injustices for women of color. GBPI asserts that there is no economic justice without reproductive justice.
GBPI Senior Policy Analysts Ife Finch Floyd and Stephen Owens provide a deeper dive into the landscape analysis and policy recommendations: