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Georgia Republicans piece together support for families after 2019 abortion law

Maya T. Prabhu and Michelle Baruchman, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

ATLANTA — Georgia lawmakers this year voted to double the amount of paid parental leave available for state workers, expanding to six weeks the amount of time new parents can take off after adopting or giving birth to a child.

During debate on the GOP-led legislation, state Sen. John Albers, a Republican from Roswell, made clear his reasons for supporting it: “This bill is a pro-family and pro-life bill.”

Republican lawmakers have pushed a variety of legislation they say is aimed at helping families, mothers and children since passing a restrictive abortion law in 2019. The law bans abortions once a medical professional can detect fetal cardiac activity, which is typically about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many know they are pregnant.

During the recently completed legislative session, lawmakers filed several bills that aimed to address aspects of maternal and infant health and support for children, families and new mothers. Some, such as legislation to amend the process of establishing new health facilities such as obstetrics and gynecological offices, navigated through the House and Senate and await Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature.

But despite GOP leaders’ intent to focus on those topics, their words only went so far: Many bills saw some traction but ultimately failed to make it across the finish line.

Those included a measure that would have ensured pregnant women receive “reasonable” accommodations in their workplaces and what would have been a substantial increase to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, commonly known as welfare, which provides monthly cash assistance to low-income families with children under 18.

 

Georgia’s abortion law, which was challenged in federal court, took effect in summer 2022 after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion.

Abortion providers and advocates are now challenging the law in state court. While a decision in that case is pending, Georgia’s abortion restrictions remain in place.

Efforts since 2019

Lawmakers built some benefits for new parents into the 2019 law, such as allowing parents to claim an embryo or fetus on their taxes or request child supportlike payment for costs from pregnancy and labor.

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