Significant Changes To Georgia Abortion Laws Presented To Empty Chairs

Nothing can stir political controversy like a good old fashioned battle over abortion.  Unless, that is, you’re the committee assigned jurisdiction to hold hearings on the matter.  Today, Senate leadership tapped freshman Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton) to become an ex-officio member of the Rules Committee so they could approve SB 210 with a quorum present. (Please don’t call him a “Hawk”.  That was a term used in Glenn Richardson’s House, when the Senate quietly disapproved of the practice.  And besides, a hawk is a bird of prey, and today’s hearing was about being pro-life.)

The fact that Rules was even hearing SB 210 is a bit of a surprise.  After all, 210 is clearly a tort bill, allowing suits for wrongful death depending on circumstances surrounding an abortion.  Yet only one permanent member of the Rules Committee is an attorney (Bill Hamrick, not present).

In the recent unpleasantness that was the battle over Senate control, Casey Cagle was left with the sole authority to direct legislation to committee of jurisdiction, and little else.  A bit low in his political capital these days, Cagle directed SB 210 and SB 209 to the Rules Committee with solid pro-life Chairman Don Balfour, who also couldn’t hurt by brushing up his social conservative bonafides.   SB 210 sailed through without too much difficulty after some testimony.

SB 209, however, became a pure bait and switch on behalf of its sponsor, Barry Loudermilk.  Many states this year are attempting to pass pro-life legislation to prohibit abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, when a baby is estimated to have the ability to feel pain.  Thus, those in attendance for the hearing were prepared to give testimony for or against the “fetal pain” bill.  Yet at the beginning of the session, Loudermilk instead passed out a substitute bill, taking virtually all in the room off guard.

The new SB 209 restricts abortions in Georgia to hospitals only, effectively closing all Georgia abortion clinics.  It also restricts any insurance plan created by the pending Georgia Insurance Exchange from covering abortion except in the case of physical health of the mother.

Given that it is essentially a new bill rather than what was expected, Balfour held over the hearing until 10am Friday to give everyone a chance to absorb the changes prior to a vote.

Normally, bills that pass Rules head straight to the floor for a full Senate vote.  However, because Rules is the Committee of Jurisdiction, these bills must survive another Committee vote (assuming SB 209 passes tomorrow) before moving to the floor.  The second vote would be to apply the rule under which they will be voted on, and is essentially approval for the full Senate to vote.

And, if you notice a sense of urgency surrounding this somewhat unconventional approach to advancing legislation, consider this.  Crossover day – the day a bill must pass the House or Senate to be considered by the other body this year – is scheduled for Wednesday.  Thus, informally, anything that will be considered by Rules for a floor vote must be approved by the committee of jurisdiction by tomorrow.  This will allow Senators to review over the weekend – or not – before the Rules Committee holds its final scheduled meeting before crossover day Monday afternoon.

In Summary, you’ve have this:  The Georgia Senate has honored Widespread Panic and Drivin’ & Cryin.  In between, they argued for weeks over legalizing Sunday Sales of alcohol without ever taking a vote.  Now, with literally days left, they’re going to try to advance the biggest change in Georgia’s pro-life laws in over a decade.  And their starting move is a bait and switch.

It’s a serious topic.  Regardless where you stand on this issue, Georgia deserves a Senate that will treat it seriously.  Even normal Balfour critics have praised his actions today.  Let’s hope a few more members of his committee are in their seats tomorrow at 10am so that the next freshman walking slowly down the hall doesn’t have to do the heavy lifting again.

53 comments

    • John C says:

      You are fine with democratic processes being circumvented so long as it achieves your desired result? Open and honest debate is something to be avoided when others might disagree with your position? Really?

  1. Assignment of bills to a committee in a manner different from how you would assign and scheduling them for votes differently than you would schedule them does not equal “democratic processes being circumvented.”

    • jm says:

      I think the point is that this bill is a hot potato. Lots of constitutional issues, and it needs digesting before you can get people to sign off on it. Remember, whether you think it is evil or not, it is a protected right under a 1973 Supreme Court decision. It’s something that has stood up to repeated challenges for almost 40 years. This law will be challenged, and defending it will be expensive – can GA afford the fight? Lawmakers will be thinking about that for sure. Bills have lost on the floor for less.

  2. KD_fiscal conservative says:

    SB210 is a clearly another “prank” bill courtesy by our brilliant bunch of legislators. I’m glad Charlie reported on this fiasco on the front page. For one, it is so poorly written, if passed it has to potential to criminalize everyone from researchers(stem cell), pharmacists/docs(‘plan b’ pill), to pregnant women. It states: ‘Unborn child’ means a member of species Homo sapiens at any stage of development who is carried in the womb. First of all; “womb” is not part of the female anatomy, also, “any stage of development” could technically mean when the sperm cell penetrates the “zona pellucida” of the egg cell, and lastly who is Loudermilk referring to by writing “who.”

    But this points to the bigger problem at hand, “pro-lifers” often don’t even understand reproduction and have no idea what they are talking about, but that doesn’t stop them from going around trying forcing their idea of “when life begins” on the rest of us.

    On the other hand, sb209, although treat for the trail lawyers, it does make a good point. Abortions at 20 weeks are pretty gruesome, and actually require two days(one day to kill the fetus, and one to remove it). Which is why the “defend 24 weeks” people are just a crazy at the other side. If it takes you that long to decide whether to have an abortion, that way I see it, its just too damn bad, you better start looking for a good adoption center you don’t want to raise the child.

    • B Balz says:

      KD states: “For one, it is so poorly written, if passed it has to potential to criminalize everyone from researchers(stem cell)”

      If correct (Intuitively seems correct), then this one Bill has huge and costly ramifications.

      • KD_fiscal conservative says:

        Most of the crap that the pandering ideologues under the dome churn out have costly ramifications, but who’s counting….at least is builds political capital.

        • bowersville says:

          Building political capital by pandering to ideologues is like a charcoal fired grill. At first it will begin to burn slowly and then as the flames intensify they heat up to a growing bed of red hot coals. Then after the feast the hot coals will reduce themselves to a bed of gray cold ashes. And people realize they’re hungry again and how often will pandering with no substance keep satisfying. Nothing lasts forever, not even red Georgia. After a couple of cycles of heated Republican primaries involving the malcontents that won’t be satisfied with the raw meat of pandering you may be looking at a blue Georgia.

        • B Balz says:

          I will tell you who is counting. Research Triangle. They are counting the top scientists that go there instead of an ‘intellectually unfriendly’ Georgia. Fact is, we have documented examples of this.

          The life sciences folks are counting.

          The bio-life industry is counting.

          The folks trying to re-develop Fort Mac and the GM plant into bio-life science industry havens are counting.

          Lawmakers MUST understand the ramifications of discussing this topic, loose and fast, are adverse to many.

  3. you says:

    So, this will make women go to a hospital and insurance will not cover the cost? It will then be so expensive that women will be forced back into unsafe places to have an abortion.
    What a joke.

    • Toxic Avenger says:

      95% of abortions are provided in private clinics, and most hospitals will only perform abortions in the cases of medical emergencies.

      This abhorring bill effectively subverts Roe v. Wade. Thanks to legislators for thinking they get Con Law better than SCOTUS.

  4. saltycracker says:

    Wonder just how much political energy will end up being spent on Sunday sales & pro-life in lieu of things that dig deep into taxpayers pockets or promote public jobs or address the criminal justice system or facilitate affordable health care or repair the infrastructure……..priorities…..

  5. John Konop says:

    As I posted here before pro-life candidate Mike Huckabee pointed out in an interview that unwed mothers mainly affect poor people who end up getting subsidies from tax payers. Knowing the above issue if this bill makes it tougher to get abortions, unless funding is attached would this not be an unfunded mandate? If we attach funding to this bill how can we afford it?

    • Charlie says:

      I had abdominal surgery several years ago in an outpatient center which required about 2.5 hours of general anesthesia. It’s actually quite common these days.

        • Charlie says:

          Here’s your problem.

          I’m pro-life.

          But the argument you just tried to make above is easily refuted.

          Then, when it is easily refuted, you start arguing facts not related to your earlier supposition. If you want to win the argument based on facts and merit, then argue facts and merit that are in your favor. Don’t pull BS facts out of the air and then try to change the subject when you’re proven wrong.

          Or worse, don’t do what’s probably coming next and declare yourself morally superior to deflect that you started to go down an intellecutually indefensible path.

          If you want to win, come prepared to win, rather than posting stupid statements and then trying to change the argument to other points.

          • Lo Mein says:

            Here’s YOUR problem.

            You’re pompous

            I didn’t try to make an argument.

            Therefore no argument was refuted, and no subject was changed.

            I am not morally superior, but you pretend to be,

            I didn’t come to “win” anything, but I realize that you are the expert at posting stupid statements, so I defer to your expertise.

            Carry on.

                • KD_fiscal conservative says:

                  Intellectually honest pro-lifers are hard to come by. Lo Mein, you obviously hate abortions and want them to be put to an end by any means necessary. But that’s not the problem, but diverting from the issue at hand(sb209, 210) to some auxiliary argument from you arsenal of “anti-abortion” talking points is all too typical from your type.

                  And yes, while Charlie didn’t say it, I think you ARE pompous, and think your morally superior.

                  …I thought I was pro-life until I realized that movement isn’t even about protecting life, it made up of extremists with an unrealistic, agenda much of which has nothing to do with “life”….but that is ad hominem.

                  • Lo Mein says:

                    Uh huh. “I thought I was pro-life until I looked at other people’s actions” doesn’t strike me as incedibly intellectually honest. But hey, you keep on tilting at those “talking points” windmills and battling other people’s “ad hominems,” I’m sure you’ll go far in life.

                    • John Konop says:

                      Lo Mien,

                      You have avoided a key issue. As you know the majority of unwed mothers are poor people as pro-life candidate Mike Huckabee has pointed out in recent speech. If we make it harder to get an abortion do you think the bill should have increase funds to cover the social service cost of poor people having kids why or why not?

                    • John Konop says:

                      Lo Mein,

                      In our country you have the right to have very liberal heart but some of us fiscal conservatives want to understand how we pay the bill?

          • Engineer says:

            Strange, “you”, I know of some women, who had to abort due to health issues where the mother and fetus would have died, that would say otherwise.

            • you says:

              …and I know women who were fine.
              I also know people who needed couseling after having children.

              • Engineer says:

                You are throwing around mixed messages here. So you are saying don’t have counseling available because not everybody needs it? Because that’s like saying a major hospital shouldn’t have a heart specialist because not all the patients are here for heart reasons.

                • you says:

                  Lo mentioned counseling (post abortion stress). If someone needs counseling I’d suggest they get it before making the decision to have an abortion. Lo seems to think all women have a problem after having one which is not true.
                  I am a woman. I have been through this with women. I am one of those people who is not exactly “pro-choice” but believes abortion should remain legal because it is needed.
                  I don’t like it when some assume that women turn into mental cases because they had an abortion. It is stressful, so is pregnancy.

                  Your friend is a different situation because she was happy to be pregnant and complications happened. Had abortions been illegal she would have been forced to stay pregnant and may have died.

      • John Vestal says:

        Yeah, I’ve had a few O/P procedures over the years (under general) that would all be classified as both more invasive and risky than a 1st-trimester abortion (many of which don’t apparently even req cervical dilation).

        I think my most recent would be a 2009 colonoscopy. Nothing like being knocked out and inflated like the Macy’s parade version of SpongeBob.

        Gotta give the doc credit, though…..he definitely stands behind his work!

        *rimshot*

  6. seenbetrdayz says:

    This is the first time I’ve agreed with Ic. in over a . . . —well, um, point being: I agree.

    If they’re going to be serious about this, then they need to make sure the bill goes through the proper channels.

  7. SallyForth says:

    Howdy, all — thank God it’s Friday evening and we get a 2-day break from the clowns at the Capitol. I figured they’d never get around to this, with all they were doing to mangle HOPE, Sunday bulk alcohol sales, illegal immigration issues, etc. out the wazoo of other controversial issues this year. But NO, the brainiacs slapped this ill-prepared attempt on the table yesterday afternoon – just for good measure, they want to take away a woman or girl’s right to privacy inside their own body!

    For all the nut-jobs who call a fertilized egg a person, does your neighbor live in a uterus?? Can you take that gestating fertilized egg out and play with it, feed it, put a diaper on it, burp it?

    Pro-choice IS pro-life — it gives a real living breathing self-sustaining person/life the choice of either using their body as an incubator (which I have gladly done twice in my life!), or terminating a pregnancy (which I have never done). I do not support abortion, am definitely not “pro-abortion” — but I will defend to the end the right of every other woman to make her own choices based on her personal circumstances and in consultation with her doctor and her God.

    I am not so arrogant as to place myself on the same level with God and say that I know what God’s will is on this matter – and a bunch of men at the State Capitol sure don’t know. I believe one’s relationship with God is a personal individual thing that is protected by our Constitution in its separation of church and state. I also believe the people who use Jesus and God for their own political purposes are going to roast in the hereafter.

    One thing I do know: If men could get pregnant, this would not even be open to public discussion.

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      I don’t approach abortion from the ‘religion’ side, because I do not share the “I prayed to Jesus and he told me abortion is evil” experience/convictions.

      However, whether your neighbor lives in a uterus now, or not, is rather irrelevant (hopefully, your neighbors do not, if it has been at least roughly 9 months since their conception). The point, is that everyone had to go through a zygotic stage in their life to get to where they are now. Perhaps we started earlier than that (perhaps not, though, since we lack the DNA coding necessary to grow to what we are, before the zygotic stage—or more specifically, that we have only half of our 46 chromosomes, which is not enough to sustain mitotic cell growth and development in a human being), but I know for certain that to state that ‘being in a uterus’ disqualifies you from being a member of the Homo sapiens sapiens club, is a bit “nutty” in itself. That’s the sort of talk that I’d expect from people who believe that babies come from storks, or that ‘God made man out of a pile of dirt.’

      Everyone typing comments on PP (unless they are robots or a mutant freak, maybe), went through that stage in human development. You did. I did. There’s no way around it. It’s a done deal, pre-determined by some one or some thing other than ourselves.

      In fact, you and I are in another stage of our lives right now.

      Point being: if anyone interrupts any stage of our life, we cease to exist.

      Biologically speaking (not theologically, nor philosophically, nor legally, but biologically), women have the reproductive organs necessary to carry children. Now, perhaps you believe God made it that way, if you subscribe to religion. Perhaps you believe evolution made it that way, if you subscribe to science. In any case, that’s the way it is (please don’t hate me for it—it’s not like I can change how the process works, and I’m somehow refusing to do so, lol).

      • SallyForth says:

        Hey Now! We agree that women are the gender that has the bodily organs necessary to gestate a fertilized egg through all the stages of development until it becomes a baby and can come out into the world, breathe the breath of life. Since this is a given, why do men (predominantly those who normally say they want less government in our lives) push for laws to control our innards and make us chattel? Do we try to pass laws controlling vasectomy and the process whereby a man destroys human life, murders all those thousands of little living sperm? Sounds pretty far fetched, huh?

        All I’m saying is keep the government out of our uterus. Honor the Constitutional right to privacy, including but not limited to both male and female reproductive systems.

        • seenbetrdayz says:

          You can do what you want with your oocytes. Men can do what they want with their sperm. That’s fair, right?

          But, I’m sorry that women have the biologically purpose of carrying the human being which starts being created when the gametes meet, but as I said, I cannot change that fact .

  8. SallyForth says:

    @seenbetrdayz, any guy who says “…women have the biologically purpose of carrying the human being which starts being created when the gametes meet” is a male chauvinist and beyond reaching. I just hope and pray that you don’t have any daughters!!

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      I’m not saying it to be a chauvinist. It was a biological statement. Not philosophical. I don’t ‘believe a woman’s place is in the kitchen’ or any of that nonsense.

      It’s a scientific fact. Women carry the new human being.

      Men have the purpose of reproduction as well, they just don’t do the carrying part.

      I’m not making this stuff up, lol. I’m sorry if this is a shock to you.

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