ATLANTA — A Georgia representative is proposing that Congress condemn attempts to criminally prosecute people who perform abortions, have abortions or experience miscarriages.
Rep. Nikema Williams, an Atlanta Democrat who formerly lobbied for Planned Parenthood in the southeast, is introducing her resolution Thursday, and has already collected 115 co-sponsors, all Democrats, her spokesman said.
The resolution also supports keeping contraceptives and abortion pills available, and using puberty blockers, hormones and other procedures when medically necessary to treat transgender people.
"Someone you know, someone in your family, or someone you love currently relies on or will need these services," the congresswoman said in a statement.
The move comes after a Democratic effort in the U.S. Senate to enshrine abortion access into federal law fell far short of breaking a filibuster on Wednesday. Williams' effort and the Senate debate follow a leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion suggesting that justices will overturn the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision that created a nationwide right to abortion, leaving states to decide such questions.
The resolution would not have the force of law, but would help Democrats highlight what they see as Republican overreach. Some women have already been prosecuted for fetal harm due to alcohol and drug use during pregnancy. Louisiana lawmakers, despite opposition from anti-abortion groups who say it goes too far, are debating a bill that would make women who get abortions subject to prosecution for murder. And several states recently banned certain medical treatments for transgender youth.
"I worked on the frontlines of reproductive health care and saw the sacrifices people still make to legally get the care they need. Criminalizing people who need or who provide this care won't save lives," Williams' statement said.
Democrats believe voters who favor legal abortion will rally to their side, possibly swinging the 2022 elections to their advantage in narrowly divided states such as Georgia.
But abortion opponents are confident that after decades of struggle, this is their moment. In an anti-abortion rally at the state capitol on Friday, Cole Muzio, president of conservative Christian group Frontline Policy Action, said he would "triple dog dare" any Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, to "run a campaign of abortion on demand."
"For any who want to talk about the politics of this moment, I say this: Bring it on. We will stand for this," Muzio said.
Ed Hula, a spokesperson for Williams, said the resolution also is endorsed by more than 140 outside groups including Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Human Rights Campaign.
Dr. Jamilla Perritt, who leads Physicians for Reproductive Health, said passing the resolution would "send an unequivocal message that no matter someone's health care needs or the pregnancy outcomes they experience, no one should be criminalized for getting the care they need."