Governor signs the maternity supportive housing legislation

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and his wife Marty pose with Elizabeth Reed, center, at the Capitol in February.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and his wife Marty pose with Elizabeth Reed, center, at the Capitol in February.

Today, Governor Brian Kemp signed into law SB 116, known as “Betsy’s Law,” the maternity supportive housing legislation that was authored by Sen. Randy Robertson and carried by Rep. Sharon Cooper in the House.

This legislation helps in building a culture of life – which means protecting life in the womb while promoting a society that empowers pregnant moms in crisis to confidently choose life for their unborn children as well as combating the high maternal mortality rate in our state.

 Betsy’s Law, affectionately named for the baby who was courageously placed for adoption by Georgia Life Alliance’s Leadership Director Elizabeth Reed when she was 15, cuts through the cumbersome red tape and government regulations to allow non-profit organizations, including churches, to offer maternity supportive housing to pregnant and new mothers over the age of 18.  Therefore, this law helps provide free maternity supportive housing for up to six pregnant moms and their children not only during pregnancy but also up to 18 months postpartum.

It is important that we understand that of the 30,656 abortions performed in Georgia 2019, 92% were obtained by pregnant mothers over the age of 20. The prevailing reason (more than 72%) was cited as ‘socioeconomic.’

 It is also known that pregnant mothers experiencing homelessness are more than twice as likely to experience a complication to their health during labor/birth, be underweight or have class III obesity, not take or have availability to take prenatal vitamins, and almost 50% more likely to hemorrhage or threaten early labor during their pregnancies. In short, homelessness exacerbates our maternal mortality and abortion rates.

It is a fact that infants born to homeless mothers are more likely to have lower birth weights, longer hospital stays, need neonatal intensive care, and have a higher likelihood of birth defects caused specifically by poor nutrition/diet during the first trimester.

This legislation would help on our focus as Georgia Baptists on pre/post-natal care with Mission Georgia. You see, it’s important that the church must step up to this challenge as we see the increasing likelihood that Roe v. Wade is overturned, and the Heartbeat Bill goes into effect this summer (see Index article: Roe v. Wade: Is the church ready?).

This legislation can play a key role in the church becoming more of a safety net for mothers and children in difficult situations! Georgia Baptists were honored to stand alongside Georgia Life Alliance and other organizations to help ensure Betsy’s Law was passed and signed by Governor Kemp.