written by Eve Barrett ’21
Georgia is going through a women’s healthcare crisis and it’s been going on for years.
As it stands today, more than half of Georgia counties do not have an OB-GYN provider. 64 lack a pediatrician. 96% of Georgia’s counties do not have abortion services or providers. GA also has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the nation.
The biggest way to change women’s healthcare in Georgia is through legislation, and the future of women’s healthcare in GA is heavily impacted by who is chosen as the next governor.
Across the board in the U.S., women want more health care policy, regardless of political party.
The position of governor is important when it comes to women’s healthcare and healthcare policy in general, because the governor can directly influence what policy comes out of Georgia.
Governors have legislative oversight, which means they are directly interacting with their state legislatures in order to advance the policies they have introduced in their platforms. They do this by making sure that the policy they want is seen in a positive light, encouraging support for the policy, and meeting regularly with legislators and legislative officials.
House Minority Leader for Georgia General Assembly Stacey Abrams will be representing the Democratic party and has been making history as the first black woman in the U.S. to be a major party’s nominee for governor, and Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be representing the Republican party and has been endorsed by Trump.
According to her campaign, Stacey Abrams’ first move as Governor will be to expand Medicaid to save the closure of even more rural hospitals. She hopes this expansion will provide pre-natal and women’s healthcare, regardless of zip code, as well as bring affordable healthcare to 500,000 Georgians and create 56,000 healthcare jobs across the state.
According to his campaign website:
Kemp will create a patient-centered health system that’s right for Georgia. He will lower insurance costs, ensure access to quality care, expand insurance options, cover Georgians with pre-existing conditions and spur innovation to address systemic healthcare challenges in [GA].
As it relates to women’s healthcare Kemp promises to increase OB-GYN and primary care doctors in rural Georgia through the Provider Loan Forgiveness Program.
According to her campaign, Abrams’ past actions on women’s healthcare has been making sure no TRAP (Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers) legislation has passed Georgia, and she has been recognized as a Living Legend by Planned Parenthood of the Southeast, a recipient of the national Champion for Women’s Health Award from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and received local support from the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta.
In regards to Kemp’s voting record on women’s healthcare policy, he has voted for a budget that was predicted to kick 9,000 pregnant women off their healthcare coverage and voted against restoring funding for the DeKalb County Rape Crisis Center. Kemp has also stated that he will do “whatever it takes to have the strongest pro-life, anti-abortion laws in the country.
In previous polls, Abrams and Kemp have been neck and neck. It will, undoubtedly, be a close race. Early voting lasts until November 2nd, and around 482,435 people have cast their ballots so far. Georgians are showing up to the polls to show their investment in this election and women’s healthcare. Their numbers show just how important this election is, not only to Georgia, but to the entirety of the United States.