Considering the recent legislation by the Georgia State Government greatly restricting a woman’s right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to term or terminate the pregnancy, some people have suggested that SIETAR USA should boycott the state and move our conference elsewhere. We don’t have a crystal ball and had no idea that something like this was pending. We have never taken a poll of the SIETAR USA membership regarding people’s feelings about abortion—nor will we. Considering the diversity on so many subjects within SIETAR USA, it is likely that our members have many thoughts and feelings about the abortion issue.
The penalties to cancel our hotel contract and the time and energy required to find a new venue are just too costly. That alone is a major reason to continue with the plan to meet in Atlanta. In addition, we had no conference in 2018 so having a conference this year is important to our membership, association and partnerships. We have over 90 excellent proposals and the presenters are counting on a conference. But there is another reason that might be most important. Our presence there with our commitment to diversity and inclusion, and to civil and human rights would speak louder than our absence.
Atlanta has played a major role in the global human rights movement. The civil rights movement in the American South was one of the most significant and successful social movements in the modern world. From Atlanta to the most rural counties in Georgia’s southwest Cotton Belt, Black activists protested White supremacy in many ways—from legal challenges and mass demonstrations to strikes and self-defense. The protection of life and the right of women to choose is at its heart a concern about human rights—the rights of the mother to make decisions regarding her own body as well as the rights of the fetus. Being in Atlanta where civil rights is always at the forefront is an opportunity for SIETAR USA to add its voice to this complicated and sensitive, ethical and moral issue. Please join us in Atlanta as we continue our discussions of the issues we face as we work toward a more inclusive, just world.