“From where I sit, this is really the moment for work like ours to do the safeguarding of abortion access at the state, city, and county levels. Because if Roe is to be overturned, which all signs point to, then really the fight is going to be at the local level. And we are preparing to not just engage in that fight, but actually win. And to do that in the South is especially powerful,” Coffman says
Sister Song, a reproductive organization that works with Amplify, is currently embroiled in a lawsuit against Gov. Brian Kemp over House Bill 481, Georgia’s version of a “fetal heartbeat bill.” HB 481 bans abortions once cardiac activity has been detected—usually at about six weeks gestation. The bill was ruled unconstitutional under the Georgia courts, but Kemp appealed it, and it’s currently tied up in court.
Coffman says that if Roe is overturned, HB 481 would likely become law. And as bad as a six-week ban on abortion sounds, there are states like Oklahoma and Texas with vigilante or bounty laws that enlist the help of civilians to enforce strict bans. Many copycat bills criminalize folks who try to leave the state to seek an abortion. As many as 35 similar laws have been drafted in other states, from abortion to book bans to gun control.
In order to protect Georgia from being as extreme as other states, Coffman says Amplify is working with a proactive agenda and introducing the Reproductive Freedom Act into the upcoming legislative session. Coffman says the Act would “repeal all existing abortion bans in Georgia and affirm abortion as a right and prevent folks from being criminalized for pregnancy-related decisions.” She also admits that it’s ambitious, if not wholly realistic, to get such a piece of legislation through in a Southern state.
The cost of an abortion is around $500. No insurance company on the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchange covers the procedure. So you can imagine who is most impacted: Black, brown, rural, and low-income people.
“There’s a broader issue of access to comprehensive reproductive health care by certain populations. So when we’re talking about not having access to contraception or regular OB-GYN care, then you are more likely to have unplanned pregnancies. It creates this system and cycle where folks who most need access to preventative care and comprehensive reproductive health care don’t have access to it, then need to seek abortion care, and then struggle to access it and get criminalized or otherwise stigmatized,” Coffman says.
Coffman points out that we can’t talk about reproductive justice without also talking about America’s history of reproductive violence and ongoing efforts to control the bodies of Black women, femmes, and people of color.
“When we talk about maternal mortality, Black women are still dying at three times a higher rate than their white counterparts. There’s something more there. And abortion care is part of maternal health care,” Coffman says.
Amplify is also working on a city-funded abortion fund in Atlanta, which would provide money to constituents and residents who have to leave the state for an abortion, to combat misinformation spread by fake abortion clinics, and to offer protection for existing clinics. Coffman says it would be similar to an existing fund called Access Reproductive Care (ARC) Southeast, which serves six states in the South but is based in Atlanta. Coffman sits on ARC’s board.
Prior to her work at Amplify, Coffman worked with Ipas, a global reproductive justice organization with partners across Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Although she was quick to acknowledge the colonialism and neoliberalism of working internationally, many countries are more progressive than the U.S. when it comes to abortion access.
“It’s really surprising. For example, Bangladesh permits menstrual regulation or bringing back your period up until I believe it’s twelve weeks. So under the religious interpretation of Islam, and when life begins, they writ large permit menstrual regulation up to twelve weeks. And so that’s a great example of a country where you wouldn’t assure that they have more access to abortion care than many states here,” Coffman says.
Coffman says that despite the near guarantee that Roe will be overturned in the months to come, she finds hope in community and the collaborative work she does. She also recently had a baby and has found that that’s the other side of the reproductive justice fight.
“We are always fighting the fight for abortion, access to create secure and safe communities, combating police violence, and combating other systemic violence. But the reason we’re doing that is for that joy and opportunity for us to build families and create communities. And I think the more we lift up that and show the positives, the more we’re going to be fueled for this enduring fight.”
And what an enduring fight we’re all in.
The Good Fight is a series spotlighting progressive activists battling injustice in communities around the nation. These are the folks who typically work to uplift those who are underserved and brutalized by a system that dismisses or looks to erase them and their stories.