This afternoon, Subcommittee One of the House Judiciary Committee heard more than 4 hours of testimony from proponents and opponents of House Resolution 536; the Human Life Amendment.
State Rep. Martin Scott (R – Rossville), the primary sponsor of the legislation, presented the proposed constitutional amendment saying, “The evidence is clear that life begins at conception. We need to enshrine it in the Constitution.”
“Now is the time. Georgia is the place. Let us vote and let them live,” Rep. Scott concluded.
H.R.536 proposes to amend Georgia’s Constitution so as to define “personhood” as beginning at fertilization. During the hearing, both Democratic and Republican committee members expressed reservations to the proposed constitutional amendment.
State Rep. Ed Lindsey (R – Atlanta), the chair of the subcommittee considering H.R.536, expressed his concerns about the legislation saying, “I don’t see how we make exceptions for incest or rape.”
Democrat Mary Margaret Oliver asked, “If life begins at conception, how can a IUD (Intrauterine Device) be lawful?”
The hearing also included testimony from Georgia State University and University of Georgia law professors who raised concerns about the constitutionality of the legislation. According to one of the professors, if H.R.536 were passed, it might open up a Pandora’s box of problems as it relates to personhood (could a fetus have the legal right to sue its mother for smoking during the pregnancy?) or eventually be struck down by the courts as violating Georgia’s single-subject rule.
Other groups in opposition to the legislation were traditional pro-life groups such as the Georgia Catholic Association and the Archdiocese of Atlanta and Savannah.
Representatives from Georgia Right to Life, a pro-life group supporting the bill, spoke in favor of the Human Life Amendment saying, “We are at all bashful at admitting that there are egregious assaults on human dignity. We believe we are laying the foundation for human dignity.”
“We believe all rights must be secondary to the right to life,” the Georgia Right to Life spokesman concluded.
Catherine Davis, a frequent candidate for Congress, agreed with Georgia Right to Life saying, “Her right to choose was before she got pregnant.”
“I disagree,” state Rep. Able Mable Thomas said.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee will hold another hearing on Wednesday, February 20th at 2:00p.m. in room 406 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building.