To be hopeless —
Dishonors those who have come before us,
And abandons those who come after us.
It is therefore our duty to
Choose hope

At the Dunwoody 4th of July parade Monday, I shared with Congressman Hank Johnson how I have struggled for over a week to write this email. He responded in his calm, thoughtful way, “Sometimes it’s best to pause.”

He is so right.

Pausing is not the same as resting. Images of the very real impacts of Georgia’s anti-abortion law keep pushing into my thoughts. The young woman whose mental illness has been successfully treated with medication, but who must stop that life-saving medication for the duration of her pregnancy. The young pregnant woman who moves to Alabama seeking support with friends and family, who now faces kidnapping charges because, according to Georgia’s law, her embryo is a person.

There is no doubt in my mind that the health and well-being of pregnant and postpartum women and infants will suffer due to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The Women’s Legislative Caucus Charges Forth!

I serve as a Co-Chair of Georgia’s Legislative Women’s Caucus. This is a bipartisan group of female legislators who come together to address issues women have in common. We have traditionally avoided the issue of abortion, but in recognition that Georgia’s pending anti-abortion law will adversely impact women and children, we wrote a letter to Governor Brian Kemp, insisting that his administration immediately address the following issues:

Georgia’s shortage of healthcare providers. We must strengthen efforts to recruit providers and improve timely access to medical care and family planning, in order to reverse our State’s worsening childbirth-related illness and death rates, especially among Black women living in rural areas. Since 1994, 36 Labor and Delivery facilities have closed and now two-thirds of rural births take place outside a mother’s home community.

Childcare & workforce training. We must further invest in programs to subsidize quality childcare in Georgia and make post-secondary education more accessible so that more parents can re-enter the workforce and increase wages. The average cost of childcare ($8,729 per child) is beyond the reach for too many young families, and fuel and food costs are pushing prices up higher.

Childhood Nutrition. Georgia’s kids need adequate nutrition, and recent infant formula shortages demonstrate the need to take action to help ensure no child goes hungry in our state. P-SNAP (Pandemic Supplemental Assistance Program) ended June 30th, returning nutrition assistance dollars to previous levels, which may not be sufficient with rising food costs.

The Women’s Legislative Caucus will gather in August for a one-day symposium so we can obtain input from experts. We will then use this information to draft a legislative agenda.

Needed: Emergency Democracy Workers

Had Stacey Abrams been elected in 2018, Georgia would not have passed the abortion ban. And don’t forget that in 2020 and 2021, Georgia won three state-wide federal elections. Stacey is on the ballot again in November and every single vote in the entire state matters.

Mid-Term elections are not an electoral college situation: If you live in a “red” county, each democratic vote you get to the polls counts exactly as much as a vote anywhere else in the state. You don’t have to “win” your county — the vote still counts.

If your precinct or county is already “blue,” getting people to turn out can be even harder. We need all the voters in the blue areas. Every single one. Because, again, each vote counts individually.

So work where you can, and do what you can. You don’t have to travel to some far part of the state. Every single vote you turn out, no matter where, counts just as much — really more — than “flipping a county.” Take this message out to your friends, and out to your community.

Why the Governor’s Office matters: People often ask me what will it matter if Stacey wins since she will still have to deal with a Republican legislature?

First, the Governor’s office has the resources — not the legislature. When Sonny Perdue was elected the first Republican Governor in 135 years, the Democrats, who had enjoyed majority status all those years, didn’t know what to do anymore. They had relied on the Governor’s office to set the agenda. Likewise, when Republicans lose the Governor’s office, they won’t know what to do.

Second, Stacey will promote moderation as Governor, even as she upholds her values. Republicans will learn they must behave differently to gain some of those resources of the Governor’s office. Explain this to some of your more independent, moderate Republican friends. Stacey won’t get everything she wants, but the far-right Republicans will get even less.

Finally, Stacey will have veto power and we now have enough Democratic votes in the legislature to block legislative veto overrides. I personally never want to experience another train wreck of bad bills like the legislature passed last session, so I’m working to ensure every Democratic House candidate in Senate 40 has what they need to successfully communicate their message.

Down Ballot Races Drive Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV): State House & Senate candidates are local messengers. People know and trust us. They listen to our message. While people often think of down-ballot races riding the coat-tails of popular top-of-the-ballot candidates, it’s the state House & Senate campaigns that drive GOTV efforts. Yet these campaigns are typically underfunded because people tend to give their money to higher-profile races. This needs to change. If there is one lesson we learned last week, it’s that state legislative races matter. By donating to my campaign, you help assure that underfunded House campaigns in Senate 40 will share in those resources.

Time for You to Charge Forth!

I understand you probably feel disappointed, demoralized and depressed with the news of the last few weeks. It’s been really hard. But we need you to turn your rage into action. We need our community to be laser focused for the next four months. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. There are votes that only you can get.

Get up in the morning, look into the mirror, and say, “What am I going to do today to save my country?” Write Governor Brian Kemp a letter, support a candidate financially, write postcards, find a group to go door-to-door with, even if you’ve never done that before. Convince a young person to not give up on voting. Help someone with the absentee ballot process. Have a hard conversation with a Republican leaning friend about why we need Stacey. Talk a friend out of despair and show them that they too can find the votes that make a difference. Get out of your comfort zone.

Choose hope.

Inspired in part by Holly Near’s “I Am Willing.” This song feels to me like a little prayer, or perhaps a hymn. Written following the Kent State shooting and during the Vietnam War, it speaks to issues we are facing today.