(The Center Square) — Gov. Brian Kemp has signed a bill to allow nonprofits to offer “maternity supportive housing residences” and resources at no cost for pregnant and postpartum women.
Under Senate Bill 116, known as Betsy’s Law, local governments cannot constrain or place occupancy requirements on these residences unless those same restrictions apply to a residence with a single-family living there, according to a news release.
Maternity supportive housing residences — a house where up to six pregnant women who are at least 18 years old and their minor children can stay during their pregnancy and for up to 18 months after childbirth — must register and pay an annual fee to the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) and have written admission and intake policies. They must also comply with local building codes, have property insurance and access wraparound services.
“SB 116 will help us support Georgia mothers and their newborns by ensuring free housing and wraparound resources for pregnant and postpartum women in need are easy to come by and local regulations do not encumber these needed services,” Kemp said in an announcement. “Betsy’s Law has a meaningful history behind it, and I appreciate all who worked with members of the Georgia General Assembly to send this piece of legislation to my desk to be signed.”
The measure comes amid a renewed nationwide debate on abortion, which has been heated at times. This week, a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion added fuel to the fire and could open the door to Georgia reinstating its “fetal heartbeat” legislation.