Abortion rights activists hold protests in downtown Atlanta

Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 7:02 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 25, 2022 at 1:46 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A monumental decision has sparked an intense response in Georgia as well as across the country. The nation’s highest court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, putting abortion rights in the hands of the states.

A growing crowd started gathering in downtown Atlanta just hours after the court’s announcement, and protesters continued to make their voices heard into the evening hours.

Georgia is one of the states expected to restrict or outright ban abortions within a matter of days.

Steps are already being taken to get Georgia’s previously blocked heartbeat law into effect quickly. The law, signed in 2019, bans abortions around six weeks into a pregnancy.

Those tasked with enforcing the law are also responding to today’s ruling. Some officials are calling for a quiet but effective form of protest.

As we watched demonstrations across Atlanta today, some local leaders are protesting on their own by vowing not to prosecute any possible abortion crimes.

DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston is among those taking this approach. She released a statement that reads in part:

“Today is a dark day. Though a leaked draft opinion set expectations for the eventuality that Roe v. Wade would be overturned, the reality of this moment still stings. 50 years of well-settled precedent has been shattered and, in its wake, remain fear and uncertainty. Across our country, reproductive rights and private healthcare matters are under attack and vulnerable to criminal inspection and prosecution.

Georgia is no exception. In 2019, HB 481, better known as the “Heartbeat Bill” was signed into law. The legislation bans abortion as soon as heartbeat activity is detectable – typically around six weeks into a pregnancy – before many women even know they are pregnant. Set to take effect in 2020, the anti-abortion law has been stalled by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled it would await U.S. Supreme Court action before making a final determination regarding the bill’s constitutionality.

So, now what? If, or likely now, when Georgia’s “Heartbeat” law advances, what are the repercussions for women, their providers, and those who assist them with obtaining abortions beyond the six-week timeframe? What is the penalty for “defiance”? The penalty for seeking essential healthcare? Under this measure, a District Attorney could bring criminal charges and pursue imprisonment against those involved in seeking, performing, and/or assisting with an abortion.

It is my contention that law enforcement and prosecutors should not be thrust into this health space, regardless of the legislation on the books. As such, as the elected District Attorney with charging discretion for the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit (DeKalb County), I am vowing not to prosecute individuals pursuant to HB 481. I believe it is a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her own body and medical care, including, but not limited to, obtaining an abortion.”