Recently, Texans functionally lost their constitutional right to abortion. Senate Law 8 prohibits abortions after approximately six weeks of gestation, making it the most regressive reproductive rights law to come into effect in modern American history. The law blatantly disregards Supreme Court precedents such as Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey, the decade-long pillars of the constitutional right to abortion, and it points to an alarming turn towards a future without the right to abortion.

Georgia is no stranger to abortion restrictions. The state requires a 24-hour wait and bans private health insurance plans sold through the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange to cover abortions outside of medical emergencies. Georgia even forbids anyone other than a doctor from physically giving a patient their medication for an abortion by pill. And Georgia passed a six-week abortion ban off Texas: the infamous HB 481 in 2019.

However, with the entry into force of Texas SB 8, the US Supreme Court signaled that it intended to overthrow Roe next year. It should be the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center contesting a new 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi in December. If that happens, Georgia’s own six-week ban will almost certainly come into effect shortly afterwards.

Even with Georgia’s HB 481 off the headlines, the saga continues. After the court temporarily blocked the law in 2019, many people lost sight of it, comforted by the knowledge that abortion is still legal in Georgia but unaware that the battle was not over yet. In fact, the 11th District Court of Appeals has just heard the state’s appeal on the case and announced on Monday that it will stay the verdict until the US Supreme Court rules on a case stemming from a similar Mississippi law. Regardless of when, the legal saga is unlikely to end there: the party that loses in the appeals court will certainly ask the Supreme Court to review the case. What is happening in Texas right now is heartbreaking, especially as it is a glimpse into the future of Georgia.

These six-week abortion bans are contrary to both reproductive health and our constitutional rights. Pregnancy is considered to have commenced on the date of the last period, which makes four of the six weeks part of the person’s normal menstrual cycle. This is why many people do not know that they are pregnant by the age of six weeks. For the lucky few who discover their pregnancy so early, bans like SB 8 and HB 481 totally give them only a week or two to see a doctor, make a decision, schedule an appointment, and have an abortion are silent about raising the funds and making practical arrangements such as transportation or childcare.

Abortion restrictions do not prevent abortion, they only make it more difficult. Some people will be forced to carry pregnancies that they do not want. Others will seek illegal abortions. Fortunately, the advent of abortion by pill means illegal abortions are much safer medically than they were in the 20th century – but no one should have to break the law to control their own body and future. Many will seek abortion in states where it is still legal, but this route will not be available to those without the time and money to travel and shelter. Our nation’s systemic inequalities mean that blacks and other colored people, LGBTQ + people, and those who struggle to make ends meet are least likely to have the means to travel for legal abortions and significantly fewer opportunities to travel with to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. As is so often the case, the most marginalized groups will suffer the greatest damage inflicted by politicians who know next to nothing about their lives and struggles.

While states base their abortion bans on their supposed respect for human life, this often belies reality. Georgia has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the country. Black women are at even higher risk and twice as likely to die as white women in the state. Our children are not doing much better: Georgia ranks 38th in the nation for family and child welfare. When these numbers are combined with the government’s refusal to teach full sex education in schools or facilitate access to contraception, the question arises whether these abortion bans have more to do with control than life.

Texas gives a glimpse into the future of Georgia, but that future is not set. Indeed, there is an obvious solution that can protect the rights of Georgians, Texans, and all Americans: Congress must act. The House of Representatives just passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would prohibit states from introducing medically unnecessary abortion restrictions. Now the Senate has to end the filibuster so that it too can vote for the bill. This may seem drastic, but it is also the prohibition of almost all abortions. If you believe that each of us knows best our needs and circumstances, when you believe our communities are best, when we are all able to make the choices that are best for us and our families, and if you believe abortion should be safe, accessible, and unpunished, then you must call on Congress to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.