After more than three hours of debate, the Georgia Senate pounded out a grueling abortion bill that would make it a crime to coerce a woman to have an abortion.
Under SB 529, the bill’s sponsor, Chip Pearson (R-Dawsonville), said doctors, boyfriends, pimps and even parents can face criminal charges is they encourage a woman to have an abortion.
A mother telling a child not to come home with a child, could go to jail based on the bill, that still has to pass the House.
Pearson added that the bill also targets doctors and health care providers, who specifically target women of color, or people who abort based on the gender or race of the child.
“If there is one thing that we can do as legislators to protect the next generation it would be to make sure abortions are rare, un-coerced and not done to promote some type of agenda related to gender or race of the child,” Pearson said.
While it is clear that black women make up more than a majority of the state’s abortions, Pearson said that in 64 percent of abortions in Georgia, “some form of coercion is present.”
“I wish there was some way to sugar coat this message. I wish I didn’t have to be here bringing this message,” Pearson said. “I have struggled with this as a father, as a Christian and as someone similar to you who represents around 100,000 newborns in this great state.”
SB 529 was approved 33-14, pretty much along party lines. Nine senators did not vote.
But the bill drew intense criticism from pro-choice senators, who questioned the bill’s purpose and legality.
“This bill was created under the false assumption that abortion doctors solicit women of color, particularly, black women,” said Sen. Donzella James of College Park. “This bill calls into question all who make a deeply private and personal medical decision. Every woman, regardless of ethnic background, should have the ability to make personal decisions. Not the people in this room. It is between, she, her family and God.”
Sen. Nan Orrock of Atlanta dubbed the bill “throw the doctor in jail legislation,” authored by the “right to run your life crowd.”
“This is an unconstitutional bill and subterfuge,” said Curt Thompson (D-Tucker). “There is no real way to figure out how someone has been coerced.”
Pearson said proof would be based on eyewitness testimony.
Throughout the afternoon, a host of senators – both Republicans and Democrats – lined up to speak for or against the bill.
Taking a swipe at Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock said that with coercion, there is no choice.
One Republican senator posted a photograph of his daughter who was born last year.
Several times, the words China, socialism, genocide, Obamacare, Holocaust and even serfs were used to show where the country is going.
“We are following China in many ways toward the road to socialism,” said Sen. Tommie Williams (R-Lyons). “We are beginning that road to serfdom ourselves.
Going back to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, Williams said that in 1973, when the Supreme Court upheld a woman’s right to an abortion, more than 90 percent of the country was against it.
A statistic that Vincent Fort of Atlanta found dubious.
“In 1865, if you had taken a public opinion poll on slavery, I would still be in chains,” Fort said. “What we are doing here is irresponsible, to use genocide and holocaust and allusions to death panels. The underlying belief is that women of color cannot make decisions of themselves.”
Fort evoked both Abraham Lincoln and the Whig Party to talk about the Republican Party’s history. He said Senate Republicans were being hypocrites, by claiming to fight for the civil rights of black women, while refusing to back legislation to fight racial profiling. A racial profiling bill filed earlier this session by Gloria Butler of Stone Mountain never got out of committee.
Fort introduced an amendment to Pearson’s bill to address racial profiling, because “driving while black or brown is a risk.”
“The author of this bill says this is important to him to protect the rights of women of color,” Fort said. “If you care about civil rights, if you care about civil rights after birth, if you care about people who are racially profiled everyday, vote for this.”
Fort’s amendment was ruled unconstitutional, because it dealt with traffic and was not considered related to the abortion bill.
A second amendment, making it a criminal offense to interfere with a woman’s right to have an abortion, lost 13-28. A third amendment failed 13-32.
A motion to table the controversial bill was also rejected, 14-31.
Robbin Shipp of Planned Parenthood said the ruling is chilling and “invades the sanctity of a woman’s right to choose.”
Catherine Davis of Georgia Right to Life obviously felt otherwise.
“This is a great day in Georgia. We are one step closer to truly protecting women.”