Press Release: Georgia Must Strengthen Health and Safety Network Ecosystem Following Eleventh District Decision

Statement: Georgia Must Strengthen Health and Safety Network Ecosystem Following Eleventh District Decision

Atlanta – Response to the US Court of Appeals for 11The tenth The Chamber’s decision last week to allow Georgian House of Representatives Bill No. 481 to enter into force after the Supreme Court invalidated Raw vs. WadeThe Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) released the following statement:

The safety net in Georgia has already failed, and these court actions will make it difficult for women and childbirth workers to get the health care they need. Georgia’s health and social safety net ecosystem for those who could get pregnant has been underperforming for decades, and the state still suffers from stark rates of maternal and infant mortality, which disproportionately affect black women, children, and those who live in rural communities. Georgians deserve access to abortion and programs that allow everyone to thrive – both must be right for us to achieve economic justice for all.

“It is essential to recognize the implications of Dobbs’ decision and the actions of 11The tenth It will be on women and childbirth in Georgia, especially black and brown women in Georgia who already face significant barriers to accessing health care and economic stability. Georgia legislators refused to invest adequately in childcare infrastructure, ignored opportunities to invest in Georgia families and workers, and failed to support Georgia’s safety net framework. HB 481 and its restriction on access to safe abortions will only act as another barrier implemented by state leaders to limit access to health care.” GBPI’s President and CEO, Staci Fox. “GBPI is a fact-based organization, and the reality is that abortion is part of the whole package of comprehensive, evidence-based health care. As we continue to push for full reproductive rights to be restored, there are many policy shifts that can better support people now. in having children (or not having children) and raising those children in Georgia. Abortion should be legal and accessible in Georgia, and our state should fully and equitably fund all programs that support children, newborns, and their families.”

Estimates of the National Partnership for Women and the Family Approximately 870,900 women of childbearing age in Georgia are economically insecure, which means they live in a household below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. This decision denies access to health care, limits people’s reproductive choices, and has adverse effects on women, newborns, and children. With abortion banned, strengthening Georgia’s health and social safety net ecosystem should be a top priority.

The GBPI recommends the following policies as a starting point in Georgia’s investment in women and families:

Medicaid expansion

The Affordable Care Act allowed Georgia to expand Medicaid access to anyone with income below 138% of the federal poverty level, but state lawmakers failed to fully embrace Medicaid expansion—leaving thousands of Georgians of childbearing age without access to basic health care. Expanding Medicaid entirely could increase access to contraceptives and preconception care, stabilize rural health providers, and help address dismal maternal and infant mortality rates in our state.

Expand access to paid leave

A paid sick and family leave policy would improve employee retention, the mental and physical health, and economic well-being of those who could bear them and their families. Research shows that a lack of paid time off can negatively affect female retention and can limit the time it takes for working mothers who want to breastfeed their children.

Georgia does not have a paid family medical leave program that supports all workers in the state. In 2021, the General Assembly passed HB 146, which is just three weeks of paid parental leave for state, Georgia university system and public school employees.

About 43 percent of black workers and 25 percent of Latino workers take any paid parental leave. Many people of color can’t even take advantage of the Unpaid Family Medical Leave Act.

  • This stems from occupational segregation, as women, particularly women of color, are more likely to work in jobs that pay less than a living wage and do not offer benefits.
  • Gender discrimination in employment is exacerbated by race and ethnicity as well, with women of color more likely to face discrimination based on gender and ethnicity.

Additionally, in Georgia, the majority (59%) of all working adults do not have access to the FMLA, either because they are ineligible or because they cannot afford to take unpaid leave.

Make child care affordable and accessible

Making child care affordable and available to more families can make it easier for those who can afford to balance their caregiving responsibilities, allowing them to enter or remain in the workforce and advance in their careers. The latest data shows that 1 in 7 children in Georgia who are eligible for childcare assistance income can receive benefits.

While Georgia has temporarily expanded its childcare and parental services (subsidies) program using federal relief dollars, many families remain neglected, making childcare costly for many mothers.

Create a statewide Earned Income Tax Credit, or Georgia Employment Credit

Women make up 48 percent of Georgia’s workforce, but they are more likely to work in lower-paying fields. Women of color are more likely to be in low-wage sectors than white women, which increases wage gaps and makes it difficult to keep up with expenses.

The Georgia Working Age Credit, a state earned income tax credit, can provide a modest wage boost that helps their wages move forward to cover their rent and bills or save for a rainy day. It can also help women who own small businesses because it increases the wages that employees get and has a ripple effect, as more people in their community frequent their business.

Implementation of comprehensive sexuality education in Georgian schools

Comprehensive sex education can prevent unwanted 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 sexual health education and found multiple areas that need to be addressed to align the law with evidence-based practices.
Our GBPI project calls on our legislators to enact proactive policies that support women and childbirth at every stage of their lives and regardless of their role in our economy, while also eliminating racial inequality that exacerbates the grievances of women of color. The GBPI asserts that there is no economic justice without reproductive justice.

GBPI’s Senior Policy Analysts, Yves Finch Floyd and Stephen Owens, provide further in-depth analysis of the landscape and policy recommendations:


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