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Georgia bill would shield expectant mothers from workplace discrimination

The "Pregnancy protection act" comes as more pregnant Georgia women are required to remain pregnant.

DECATUR, Ga. — Georgia lawmakers appear poised to take on workplace discrimination against pregnant women.  

The bill comes on the heels of Georgia’s controversial heartbeat law, which restricts abortion and requires more pregnant women to stay pregnant.

Pregnancy was only part of the adventure for Asheton Fletcher while she was carrying her son Joe two years ago.

"Absolutely I was afraid to tell my employer I was having a baby," Fletcher said as she and Joe visited a public park for toddlers in Decatur.  "I was afraid of what it would be like when I came back (to work), whether I would have the same responsibilities, whether I would have bigger and better opportunities."

Fletchers said she supports an effort in the Georgia legislature to forbid businesses from discriminating against women carrying children, called the ‘Pregnancy Protection Act.’

State Rep. Shea Roberts (D-Sandy Springs) is a mother and a supporter of the bill.

"We can't help that we have doctor’s appointments. We can’t help that there are certain physical things we should not do because of the health of the child," Roberts said. "So there needs to be accommodations for that when we’re pregnant."

The bill has bipartisan backing, including state Rep. Terri Anulewicz (D-Smyrna), the mother of a teen.  "Why would we not give women protections when they are harassed in the workplace for being pregnant?" she asked.

The bill does give some businesses, especially smaller ones, leeway to exempt themselves. But backers say the workplace protections in the bill for pregnant women would be substantial.

"I think It’s absolutely the governments place to step in and help women in the workplace, especially women who are giving birth," said Anna Lyle, a mother at the park in Decatur.

"Especially when the state is requiring a lot of women to stay pregnant against their will," added Rep. Roberts.

Anulewicz said she expects a hearing on the bill to include testimony from women who lost their jobs because they were pregnant.

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