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State Laws

Georgia


Political Information

Executive (Governor)

Anti-choice

Senate

Anti-choice

House

Anti-choice

Abortion-Care Policies

Abortion Providers

Abortion Providers: Restrictions

Georgia imposes extra restrictions on abortion providers, despite the fact that all health-care providers already must comply with a variety of federal and state regulations governing health, safety, building and fire codes, and zoning requirements.  

Restrictions on Where Abortion Services May Be Provided

Georgia places medically unnecessary restrictions on where abortion services may be provided.

Abortion facilities must be "available at all reasonable and/or scheduled operating hours for observation and examination" by state officials.  The regulations offer no protections for patient privacy or confidentiality.  Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 290-5-33-.08(1).

In order to provide post-first-trimester abortion care, a provider must be licensed as a hospital, an ambulatory surgical center, or an "abortion facility" (which must also be an ambulatory surgical center).  Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 290-5-32-.01(g), -.02(1).  The state restricts providers in "abortion facilities" to providing only D&E procedures.  Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 290-5-32-.02(1).  Therefore, any procedure after 13 weeks other than D&E must be provided in a hospital or an ambulatory surgical center.

Restrictions on Who May Provide Abortion Services

Georgia prohibits certain qualified health-care professionals from providing abortion services.

Only a physician licensed by the state to practice medicine and surgery may provide abortion care.  Ga. Code Ann. § 16-12-141(a) (Enacted 1968; Last Amended 2012).  Separate laws prohibit physician’s assistants and advanced practice registered nurses from providing medication-abortion care.  Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r.  480-22-.12(2),  360-32-.02(5)(i).


Abortion Rights

Abortion Bans Throughout Pregnancy: Ban by Week

Georgia outlaws abortion after 20 weeks without an adequate exception to protect women’s health or for cases in which the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.  Georgia amended its previous post-viability abortion ban to apply previability. The law now makes abortion after 20 weeks a criminal act, unless necessary to prevent a substantial permanent impairment of the life or physical health of the woman or in the case of a medically futile pregnancy.  Ga. Code Ann. § 16-12-141(c) (Enacted 1973; Last Amended 2012).

A judge initially enjoined the state’s 20-week abortion ban, temporarily blocking its enforcement. Lathrop v. Deal, Civil Action File No. 2012-cv-224423 (2012). In 2015, a judge dismissed the case on the grounds of "soverign immunity" – unrelated to the claim – which forbids courts to entertain a lawsuit against the state without its consent. Pro-choice litigators appealed, and the case was referred to the state supreme court. In June 2017, the court ruled that the case can proceed against state officials as individuals, though not against them in their official capacity. S17A0196. Lathrop et al. v. Deal et al. (2017).


Abortion Bans Throughout Pregnancy: Procedure Ban

Georgia has an unconstitutional and unenforceable ban that outlaws abortion procedures as early as 12 weeks.  Georgia’s law makes any abortion procedure that falls within a broad definition a felony unless necessary to preserve the life of a woman endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, and no other medical procedure will suffice.  Ga. Code Ann. § 16-12-144 (Enacted 1997.)  A court has approved a consent order that limits enforcement of this ban to post-viability abortion and adds exceptions to protect the woman’s life and health. Midtown Hosp. v. Miller, 1:97-CV-1786-JOF (N.D. Ga. Sept. 3, 1998).

There is also a Federal Abortion Ban, which applies nationwide regardless of state law.  The federal ban prohibits certain second-trimester abortion procedures and has no exception for a woman’s health.  In April 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ban, making it the first time since Roe v. Wade that the court has upheld a ban on a previability abortion procedure.  


Biased Counseling

Biased Counseling

A woman may not obtain an abortion until at least 24 hours after the attending physician, the referring physician, or the physician’s agent tells her, by telephone or in person:  (1) the medical risks of the particular procedure; (2) the probable gestational age of the fetus; and (3) the medical risks of carrying the pregnancy to term.

In addition, at least 24 hours prior to the abortion, in person or by telephone, the woman must receive from the attending or referring physician or physician’s agent, a state-mandated lecture that must include:  (1) that medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care; (2) that the "father" is liable for child support; and (3) that she has the right to review state-prepared materials on a state-sponsored website that describe the fetus, list agencies that offer alternatives to abortion, and contain information on fetal pain.  If the woman chooses to review materials in printed form, they must be given to her at least 24 hours before the abortion or mailed to her, by certified mail, at least 72 hours before the abortion.

The state-prepared materials must:  (1) provide a geographically indexed, comprehensive list of public and private agencies and services, including adoption agencies, available to assist the woman through pregnancy, upon childbirth, and while the child is dependent, or include a 24-hour toll-free hotline that may be called to obtain such a list; (2) describe with pictures the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the fetus at two-week gestational increments, including the possibility of survival; (3) describe the commonly employed abortion procedures, the medical risks associated with each, the "possible detrimental psychological effects of abortion," and the medical risks of carrying a pregnancy to term; and (4) give information on fetal pain concerning fetuses of 20 weeks or more gestational age and state that anesthesia is routinely administered to fetuses of 20 weeks gestational age or older who undergo prenatal surgery. Ga. Code Ann. §§ 31-9A-1, -2, -5, -7, -8 (Enacted 2005), -3, -4, -6 (Enacted 2005; Last Amended 2012).


Mandatory Delays

Mandatory Delay

Georgia requires a woman seeking an abortion to wait at least 24 hours between the time she receives biased-counseling materials and when she can get the procedure. Ga. Code Ann. §§ 31-9A-1, -2, -5, -7, -8 (Enacted 2005), -3, -4, -6 (Enacted 2005; Last Amended 2012).


Insurance Coverage & Abortion

Prohibits Abortion Coverage in the Insurance Exchange

Does Georgia expressly prohibit plans in its state exchange from covering abortion services?

Yes.  Health-insurance policies offered in the state health-insurance exchange may not include abortion coverage, with exceptions only to save a woman’s life or avert substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.  Nothing in the law prohibits the purchase of abortion coverage outside the exchange through an optional rider for which an additional premium is paid.  However, insurers are not required to offer such riders and there is no evidence that such separate policies exist. (Even if they did exist, offering women the "option" to pay for separate abortion coverage is a false promise because no one plans for an unplanned pregnancy.)  Ga. Code Ann. §33-24-59.17 (Enacted 2014).


Prohibits Abortion Coverage for Public Employees

Does Georgia expressly prohibit insurance plans for public employees from covering abortion services?

Yes.  Health-insurance policies provided to state employees may not include abortion coverage, with exceptions only to save a woman’s life or avert substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.  Nothing in the law prohibits the purchase of abortion coverage through an optional rider for which an additional premium is paid.  However, insurers are not required to offer such riders and there is no evidence that such separate policies exist. (Even if they did exist, offering women the "option" to pay for separate abortion coverage is a false promise because no one plans for an unplanned pregnancy.)  Ga. Code Ann. §33-24-59.17 (Enacted 2014).


Supports Insurance Coverage of Contraception

Georgia law requires health-insurance plans that cover prescription medication to provide equitable coverage for contraception.

What is required?  If a health-insurance plan provides coverage for outpatient prescription medication, it must provide coverage for any Food and Drug Administration-approved prescription contraception.

To which insurance plans does the law apply?  Health-insurance plans, other than certain limited benefit policies, issued or renewed on or after July 1, 1999 that provide coverage for outpatient prescription medication.

Does the law provide additional protections for women?  Yes.  Insurers may not impose a different copayment, coinsurance, or fee for contraceptives from that imposed on other prescription medication.  In addition, insurers may not reduce prescription drug reimbursement rates for individuals receiving prescription contraceptive benefits.

Does the law contain a refusal clause, allowing certain employers and/or insurers to refuse to provide or pay for contraceptive coverage?  No.

Ga. Code Ann. § 33-24-59.6 (Enacted 1999).


Low-Income Women & Abortion

Restricts Low-Income Women’s Access to Abortion

Georgia prohibits public funding for abortion for women eligible for state medical assistance for general health care unless the procedure is necessary to preserve the life of a woman endangered by a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.  Div. of Med. Assistance, Ga. Dep’t of Cmty. Health, Medicaid Provider Manuals, Part II: Policies and Procedures for Physician Services, ch. 900, § 904.2 (Rev. Jul. 1, 2014), and Appendix H: Abortions, Certificate of Necessity for Abortion (DMA-311) (July 1, 2014).

A lawsuit was filed challenging Georgia’s policy of not funding medically necessary abortion services.  The plaintiffs requested but were denied an order that would have prevented the state from denying public funding for medically necessary abortion services for Medicaid-eligible women.  Feminist Women’s Health Ctr. v. Burgess, 2003-CV-78487 (Ga. Super. Ct. Dec. 23, 2003), rev’d, 651 S.E.2d 36 (Ga Sup. Ct. 2007).


Young Women & Abortion

Parental Notice

Georgia law restricts young women’s access to abortion.

Is the law enforceable?  Yes.  A federal court held that this law is constitutional.  Planned Parenthood Ass’n of the Atlanta Area v. Miller, 934 F.2d 1462 (11th Cir. 1991).

Who is considered a minor?  A young woman under the age of 18 who has never been married and who is under the care, custody, and control of her parents.

What is required – parental consent or parental notice?  Notice.

Who must be notified?  One parent.

Are there other trusted adults who may be notified instead?  No.

What is the process for providing notification?  A young woman may not obtain an abortion until at least 24 hours actual notice has been given in person or by telephone by the attending physician or the physician’s qualified agent to one parent.  If written notice is sent by certified mail, return receipt requested with delivery confirmation, the 24-hour period begins to run 48 hours after the mailing unless proof of earlier delivery is established.  Notice from the physician is not required if the young woman provides a signed statement from the parent stating that the parent has been notified.  The 24-hour period is not required if, after receiving notice, the parent certifies in writing that he or she has been previously informed that the young woman was seeking an abortion or that he or she does not wish to consult with her, or if a parent accompanies the young woman.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of rape or incest?  No.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of child abuse?  No.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman’s health is threatened?  Yes, but only if the attending physician certifies in writing that a medical emergency exists.  A medical emergency is defined as "when in the best clinical judgment of the attending physician on the facts of the case before him, a medical emergency exists that so complicates the condition of the minor as to require an immediate abortion."

May the parental mandate be waived under any other circumstances?  Yes, the young woman may try to obtain permission from a judge.

If a young woman must obtain permission from a judge, what is the process?  She must secure a court order stating either that she is mature and well informed enough to make her own decision or that parental notice is not in her best interests.

Are there other significant requirements under the law?  No.

Has a court considered the constitutionality of this law?  Yes.  A court held that this law is constitutional.  Planned Parenthood Ass’n of the Atlanta Area v. Miller, 934 F.2d 1462 (11th Cir. 1991).

Other information about the law:  None.

Ga. Code Ann. §§ 15-11-110, -116, -118 (Enacted 1987; Last Amended 2013), -111, -112 , -114 (Enacted 1987; Last Amended 2013), -113 (Enacted 1987; Last Amended 2013).


Family-Planning Policies

Insurance Coverage & Contraception

No state measure.

Low-Income Women & Contraception

Supports Low-Income Women’s Access to Contraception

Georgia provides increased access to reproductive-health-care services through a Section 1115 family-planning waiver.  The waiver allows the state to cover family-planning services for women ages 18 through 44 with family incomes at or below 211 percent of the federal poverty level who are otherwise ineligible for Medicaid and do not have any other health insurance.  Additionally, enrollees must be (1) U.S. citizens or persons who meet the state’s defined immigration requirements, (2) Georgia residents, (3) not pregnant, and (4) able to have a baby (have not had a tubal ligation or hysterectomy).

Beneficiaries of family-planning coverage available through the waiver are not required to pay premiums or co-payments for covered services.  Covered services include: family-planning initial exam and annual exam; contraceptive services and supplies; follow-up family-planning visits; pregnancy tests and pap smears; testing, medication, and follow up for sexually transmitted infections found during the family-planning exam (does not include HIV/AIDS and hepatitis); counseling and referrals to social services and primary health-care providers; sterilization; family-planning pharmacy visits; vitamins/folic acid; and select immunizations for participants ages 19 and 20.

The waiver was temporarily extended through March 31, 2019.   

Georgia Planning for Healthy Babies, Project No. 11-W-00249/4, at http://www.medicaid.gov/Medicaid-CHIP-Program-Information/By-Topics/Waivers/1115/downloads/ga/ga-planning-for-healthy-babies-ca.pdf.


Emergency Contraception

No state measure.

Other Important Issues

Clinic Protections

No state measure.

Fake Health Centers

State Refers to Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Georgia law refers women to crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). In connection with the state’s biased-counseling and mandatory-delay law, when a woman tells a health-care provider she is considering abortion, the provider must give her a state-maintained list of facilities that will satisfy the law’s mandate. CPCs are included on the list without disclaimer of their biased nature and are not distinguished from legitimate health centers.  Ga. Code Ann. § 31-9A-4 (Enacted, 2005; Last Amended, 2011).


State has Anti-Choice License Plates

Georgia law provides for a "Choose Life" license-plate program that funnels money to anti-choice organizations. The program is operated by the state Department of Revenue and drivers are able to purchase the specialty license plate for a fee. A percentage of the fee is retained by the state to recoup administrative costs; the rest of the funds are directed to Choose Life, Inc.  Ga. Code Ann. § 40-2-86(32) (2006).


State Funds Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Georgia funds crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) directly through taxpayer funds.  The funding stream is established through the "Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program," which awards grants to not-for-profit organizations that promote childbirth, administered by the Department of Public Health.  In FY’17, CPCs are eligible to receive up to $2,000,000 through this funding stream.  Ga. Code Ann. § 31-2A-30-41; S.B. 308, 2016 Gen. Ass., (Enacted 2016).


Refusals & Guarantees

Refusals of Medical Care

ABORTION REFUSAL CLAUSE

Georgia allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide abortion services.

To whom does the refusal clause apply?  Individuals, hospitals, medical facilities, pharmacists or physicians.

What does the refusal clause allow?  Allows individuals who object in writing on moral or religious grounds to refuse to fill a prescription for a medication intended to cause an abortion or to participate in procedures that result in an abortion.  The refusal of a person to participate may not be a basis for a claim for damages or other recriminatory action.  In addition, allows hospitals, medical facilities, and physicians to refuse to admit a woman for the purpose of providing abortion care.

Must the refusal be in writing?  Yes.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to notify the persons affected?  No.

Are there circumstances under which a refusal clause may not be exercised?  No.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to provide medically and factually accurate information or provide a referral for abortion services?  No.

Does the law provide a mechanism for women to otherwise obtain specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals if an individual and/or entity exercises a refusal clause?  No.

Ga. Code Ann. § 16-12-142 (Enacted 1968; Last Amended 2006).

FAMILY-PLANNING REFUSAL CLAUSE

Georgia allows certain individuals to refuse to provide family-planning services.

To whom does the refusal clause apply?  Employees of state agencies that administer family-planning services.

What does the refusal clause allow?  Any employee of a state agency that administers family-planning services, defined as family-planning counseling, information, and referrals, and the distribution of contraception, may refuse to accept the duty of offering such services where the duty is contrary to the employee’s religious beliefs.  An employee’s refusal to offer family-planning services shall not be grounds for any disciplinary action, dismissal, interdepartmental transfer, suspension, loss in pay, or any other discrimination in employment.  The director of the agency is, however, authorized to reassign the duties of the employee in order to provide family-planning services effectively.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to notify the persons affected?  No.

Are there circumstances under which a refusal clause may not be exercised?  No.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to provide medically and factually accurate information or provide a referral for family-planning services?  No.

Does the law provide a mechanism for women to otherwise obtain specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals if an individual and/or entity exercises a refusal clause?  No.  However, the director of an agency is authorized to reassign the duties of the employee in order to provide family-planning services effectively.

Ga. Code Ann. § 49-7-2, -6 (Enacted 1966).

PHARMACIST REFUSAL CLAUSE

Georgia allows pharmacists to refuse to fill or refill prescriptions.

To whom does the refusal clause apply?  Pharmacists.

What does the refusal clause allow?  It is not considered unprofessional conduct for any pharmacist to refuse to fill any prescription based on his or her moral beliefs.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to notify the persons affected?  No.

Are there circumstances under which a refusal clause may not be exercised?  No.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to provide medically and factually accurate information or provide a referral for prescription services?  No.

Does the law provide a mechanism for women to otherwise obtain specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals if an individual and/or entity exercises a refusal clause?  No.

Ga. Admin. Code § 480-5-.03. (Enacted 2001).

STERILIZATION REFUSAL CLAUSE

Georgia allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to perform or participate in sterilization procedures.

To whom does the refusal clause apply?  Hospitals, physicians, or any other person who is a member of or associated with the staff of a hospital, or any employee of a hospital.

What does the refusal clause allow?  Allows physicians, or any other individual who is a member of or associated with the staff or a hospital, or any employee of a hospital in which a sterilization procedure has been authorized, who objects on moral or religious grounds to refuse to participate in the medical procedures or the committee procedures leading to a sterilization procedure.  The refusal shall not be the basis of any claim for damages or for disciplinary or recriminatory action.  Allows hospitals to refuse to admit a patient for the purpose of performing a sterilization procedure.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to notify the persons affected?  No.

Are there circumstances under which a refusal clause may not be exercised?  No.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to provide medically and factually accurate information or provide a referral for sterilizing procedures?  No.

Does the law provide a mechanism for women to otherwise obtain specific reproductive health services, information, or referrals if an individual and/or entity exercises a refusal clause?  No.

Ga. Code Ann. § 31-20-6 (Enacted 1970).


Counseling & Referral Bans

No state measure.

Everyone should be able to decide if, when, how, and with whom they start or grow a family.

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