How Georgia’s gerrymandering threatens reproductive rights
You’ve probably heard us talk a lot about how All On The Line’s fight for fair maps will directly affect our progress on the issues that we care about: Health care. Climate change. Economic opportunity. Preventing gun violence.
But we want to show you, too.
So we’re going to start bringing you Deep Dives into what’s happening in states across the country: How gerrymandering allows for extreme legislation, or stands in the way of progressive ideas, or how a state with fair districts is able to actually represent the will of the voters.
First up? Georgia, where House Bill 481 — otherwise known as the “Heartbeat Bill” — is threatening reproductive rights, thanks to a gerrymandered state legislature.
What is the “Heartbeat Bill”? HB481 is a proposed new law pushed through by a gerrymandered majority in the state legislature that would prohibit abortions after doctors can discern a fetal heartbeat — something that happens around six weeks of pregnancy, before some women even know they’re pregnant. If passed, it would be one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.
Is that what Georgia voters want? Not even close. Almost 7 in 10 Georgia voters believe abortion should be legal, and 56% of Georgia voters — a 2-to-1 margin — say they’re less likely to vote for a politician if they support legislation that criminalizes abortion.
So why did state representatives push it through? Because Georgia’s legislature has been gerrymandered to the point where its elected officials are no longer responsible to the people in their districts. They know they can’t be held accountable for extreme votes like these.
How did it pass? By a single vote (92–78 in the State House, needing 91). Imagine that vote in a state where just one more representative had to answer to a non-gerrymandered district — one that was moderate like the state itself, and not like the far-right policy he or she voted for.
What happens now? The bill will go to the desk of … new Governor Brian Kemp, who won the election last November by shamelessly suppressing votes: closing polling places, purging voter rolls, and stopping voter registration applications.
These are the consequences of our unfair system and unfair elections. It’s time to fix the system.
Angry? Us, too.
For all the progress we’ve made — electing better representatives, passing “fair maps” ballot initiatives, spreading the word about legal victories in states like Pennsylvania — there is a long way to go.
And every day we go without fair districts is a day that allows policies like these to become law and threaten basic rights and hold us back from progress.
That’s why we’ll keep shining a light on places like the Georgia state legislature, and work tirelessly to change things.
Visit allontheline.org to join the All On The Line team today.