KENNESAW, Ga. — Stacey Abrams believes politicians shouldn’t interfere with a woman’s decision on whether to get an abortion, and her own religious faith has reinforced her pro-abortion-rights views.
“Abortion is a medical decision,” Abrams, Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee, told Yahoo News in a sit-down interview Sunday in her home state ahead of a campaign event. “It is also a decision that women make because they are not ready to be mothers. … My responsibility as a legislator is to make certain that we allow doctors and nurses and medical professionals to make medical decisions and that politicians stay out of it.”
Abrams, the daughter of two retired United Methodist pastors, also said her religious views are not incompatible with her belief that abortion should remain legal in states like Georgia.
“While your faith tradition may tell you that you personally do not want to make that choice, it is not my right as a Christian to impose that value system on someone else,” she said. “Because the value that should overhang everything is the right to make our own decisions, the free will that the God I believe in gave us.”
Georgia is one of nine states that enacted a six-week abortion ban following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade in June. With the ruling, the nation's high court concluded that the Constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion.
Under a 2019 Georgia law signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, but that did not go into effect until last month, most abortions are now prohibited in the state after six weeks of pregnancy, or about the time a doctor can hear the heartbeat of a fetus. The only exceptions to the law are if a woman faces serious health risks or death during pregnancy or in cases of rape or incest.
Based on that same law, Georgia residents can also claim an “unborn child” as a dependent on their taxes, the state's Department of Revenue announced Monday. Fetuses past six weeks now have “full legal recognition” as living people.
"The Department will recognize any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat ... as eligible for the Georgia individual income tax dependent exemption," the department’s statement read.
For abortion advocates like Abrams, the law’s interpretation is another blow to women’s reproductive rights, which have become a central issue in her rematch against Kemp, to whom she narrowly lost the governor’s race in 2018. During Sunday’s event, Abrams listed repealing abortion laws, in addition to expanding Medicaid and repealing loose gun laws in the state, as one of her top three priorities.
That may prove a winning issue. According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll released last week, 42% of Georgia voters said they were more likely to vote for a candidate who favored protecting abortion rights, while 26% said they approved of candidates who wanted to limit access to abortion. Roughly 25% said the issue made no difference to who they would support.
Georgia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, twice the national average, and Abrams believes placing any limits on abortion is a decision that should be left to a woman and her doctor.
“Arbitrary political parameters make no sense, but it should always be that abortion care is available until a fetus is viable, unless that viability threatens the life of the mother and the health of the mother,” she said.
Cover thumbnail: Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images