Stacey Abrams' Opponent, Brian Kemp, Once Denied Funding to a Rape Crisis Center

Women across America are gearing up for a fight.

With the battle over Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation now behind us, women across the country are looking ahead to the midterms. One of the most prolific showdowns in November is set to be between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp, two ideologically opposed candidates who are competing to become Georgia's next governor. Abrams, a Black progressive and social-justice activist who is running on a platform of ending economic inequality, is going head-to-head with Kemp, a blood-red conservative in the mold of Trump who, according to a press conference Monday held by officials and activists in the state, twice voted to deny funding to a rape crisis center in Decatur, Georgia.

In the press conference Monday, which was attended by state senators Elena Parent, Nan Orrock, and Tonya Anderson, as well as by representatives from NARAL and the Democratic Party of Georgia, activists and politicians railed against Kemp's 2005 decision. When Kemp was a Georgia state senator 13 years ago, a 2005 amendment to House Bill 84 was put to vote, with the goal of restoring funding to the DeKalb County Rape Crisis Center, which offers counseling, legal advocacy, and mental health help to victims of sexual assault. Kemp voted against restoring the funding to the crisis center.

In the same 2005 session, according to officials at today's press conference, Kemp also voted against an amendment to House Bill 85, which aimed to donate $25,000 to the center, specifically its Family Violence Services program.

The resurfacing of Kemp's 2005 vote comes at a particularly troubling time. One month before the November midterm elections, a passionate effort to deny Brett Kavanaugh a Supreme Court seat on the basis of multiple sexual assault allegations against him (which he denies) ultimately failed this weekend when the Senate voted to confirm the soon-to-be Supreme Court justice. The vote to confirm Kavanaugh followed hours-long, painful testimony from the woman who says Kavanaugh assaulted her in the '80s, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who is still not able to return to her family home because she faces "unending" death threats. Kavanaugh becoming a lifetime Supreme Court justice in spite of his multiple assault allegations is a wounding blow to women across the country—one that pollsters predict Republican members of Congress may pay for in the midterm elections.

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When it comes to women's reproductive, sexual, and mental health, Kemp has made clear where he stands. In 2004, he voted in favor of a health care budget that would strip thousands of pregnant women of their Medicaid coverage, and has called the Affordable Care Act an "absolute disaster," pledging to work to repeal it wherever possible. He is also ardently pro-life, promising on his website to "significantly move the needle on pro-life legislation in our state and fight against the left to make sure these laws stand." He also did not redact his pre-allegation support of Kavanaugh throughout the Supreme Court battle, even when activists urged him to.

Says Stacey Abrams' communications director, Priyanka Mantha, to "It's clear that Brian Kemp doesn’t prioritize preventing or addressing sexual assault in Georgia. Stacey Abrams is the only candidate for governor with a track record of taking concrete steps to ensure the health, safety, and well being of Georgia women.”

Of pro-choice legislation past and present, Kemp notes on his website: "I’ve taken on the Obama Justice Department [and] Stacey Abrams...before and I am ready to defeat them again." (Meanwhile, Abrams is a recipient of awards from The Partnership of Domestic Violence and sex-trafficking survivor nonprofit Tabitah's House.)

If you're in Georgia, you can check to see whether you were purged from the voting polls (a very real threat) here. You have until Oct. 9 to re-register.

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From explainers to essays, cheat sheets to candidate analysis, we're breaking down exactly what you need to know about this year's midterms. Visit Marie Claire's Midterms Guide for more.

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Jenny Hollander
Digital Director

Jenny is the Digital Director at Marie Claire. A graduate of Leeds University, and a native of London, she moved to New York in 2012 to attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She was the first intern at Bustle when it launched in 2013, and spent five years building out its news and politics department. In 2018 she joined Marie Claire, where she held the roles of Deputy Digital Editor and Director of Content Strategy before becoming Digital Director. Working closely with Marie Claire's exceptional editorial, audience, commercial, and e-commerce teams, Jenny oversees the brand's digital arm, with an emphasis on driving readership. When she isn't editing or knee-deep in Google Analytics, you can find Jenny writing about television, celebrities, her lifelong hate of umbrellas, or (most likely) her dog, Captain. In her spare time, she also writes fiction: her first novel, the thriller EVERYONE WHO CAN FORGIVE ME IS DEAD, was published with Minotaur Books (UK) and Little, Brown (US) in February 2024 and became a USA Today bestseller. She has also written extensively about developmental coordination disorder, or dyspraxia, which she was diagnosed with when she was nine. She is currently working on her second novel.