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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks to the crowd at the Miller Learning Center in Athens, Georgia, on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. During the talk hosted by the College Republicans at UGA, the governor discussed matters concerning Afghanistan, voting and COVID-19. (Photo/Jessica Gratigny; @jgratphoto)

On Sept. 10, Gov. Brian Kemp attended a Georgia-Samford tailgate hosted by the University of Georgia College Republicans where he was recorded speaking about the logistics of potentially banning Plan B, an emergency contraceptive pill, in the state of Georgia.

The audio was leaked on Twitter five days later, resulting in Kemp trending nationally and thousands of people reacting to his comments. Now, questions and concerns have been raised about the future of contraceptives in Georgia.

In the audio between Kemp and an unidentified individual, the governor was asked about potentially banning Plan B since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion on June 24, leaving the decision up to the individual states. The right had been established since the ruling of Roe v. Wade on Jan. 22, 1973.

“You can take up pretty much everything,” Kemp said about potentially banning the pill in the audio. “You got to be in a legislative session to do that, and that’s not until January … just depends on where the legislators are.”

This conversation follows various challenges to women’s healthcare, including Georgia’s Heartbeat Bill that Kemp signed in 2019 and was put into affect on July 20. The bill bans abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks.

Kemp’s reply to the student did not state whether or not he was in support of banning contraception, however with Election Day approaching, some Democratic lawmakers are urging voters to keep Kemp’s response in mind when heading to the polls.

Party stances

According to a press release from the Georgia Democrats, state lawmakers held a press conference on Sept. 19 to discuss the leaked conversation and what it suggests for the future of contraceptives within the state if he is re-elected.

“Kemp’s openness to banning forms of contraception should sound warning bells in the ears of every Georgian woman and every dad as we get closer to Election Day,” said Sally Harrell, Democratic District 40 state senator and co-chair of the Women’s Legislative Caucus.

Democratic District 42 state Sen. Elena Parent said access to forms of contraception is a fundamental right for women and it is crucial to allow all women, no matter their financial status or living situation, the right to control their own lives and futures.

Tate Mitchell, the press secretary for Kemp’s campaign team and a UGA alum, responded to the leaked audio conversation to help clear up what people may have interpreted from it.

“The Governor has never opposed access to contraception,” Mitchell said in a statement published by The Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

What’s at stake

The Committee to Protect Health Care released a statement on Sept. 20 in response to the leaked audio, discussing how some Georgia doctors feel about the possibility of contraception being banned by Kemp.

“As a physician and a Georgian, I’m deeply appalled that our governor wants to support legislation that would further restrict women’s rights,” said Dr. Haben Debessai, an OB-GYN in Atlanta, in the release. “Such new legislation could take away safe, common family planning contraceptives, including Plan B which prevents pregnancy and is not an abortion medicine. These acts will only serve to injure and gravely restrict the women of Georgia.”