State Rep. Doug McKillip of Athens, author of an aggressive measure to shorten the period during which Georgia women can seek an abortion, last night faced Republican primary challenger Regina Quick in a debate sponsored by the Oconee Chamber of Commerce.
At the outset, McKillip – who was briefly chairman of the House Democratic caucus — ascribed his switch to the Republican party and his sponsorship of the anti-abortion measure to a religious conversion.
Quick emphasized her six-years’ service on the executive committee of the Clarke County Republican party, but also mentioned that she grew up in a bipartisan household, with a union-member father and a GOP poll-watching mother – perhaps a nod to Democrats now supporting her.
HB 954 was one of the most contentions bills of the session, and the first major piece of anti-abortion legislation to pass the General Assembly in years. Backed by Georgia Right to Life, McKillip based his bill’s 20-week limit on abortions – signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal — on the contention that it is at that stage of development that a fetus can feel pain.
Obstetricians opposed the measure, saying some tests that determine viability of a fetus can’t be administered until later. The law, they say, dooms women bearing fetuses without brains or lungs to carry to term – or to undergo caesarean sections the law now requires to give the aborted fetus every chance at survival.
McKillip opened the abortion discussion:
”That bill has not only every single Republican member of our Congressional delegation signed on to the fetal pain bill at the congressional level, but that bill as I drafted it is now being used nationwide as the template for pro-life legislation in the pro-life movement.”
Quick declared that she would not have voted for the measure:
”It’s a poor piece of legislation. You don’t need to take my word for it, or listen to my opponent. As an obstetrician locally what this bill does. It interferes with the patient-physician relationship and mandates substandard care for regular obstetric patients.
“In fact, the high-risk referral obstetrician in middle Georgia has already left the state because it mandates malpractice. It mandates a physician to commit malpractice. You’ll note that my opponent did not say they talked to obstetricians before the session, or listened to them during the session, because they didn’t.
“This bill creates a problem for women and unborn children in Georgia, because it did not take into account the very complicated medical situation between weeks 20 and 23. And there’s a reason that’s the constitutional standard for viability.”
McKillip said he indeed talked to and “got great advice” from obstetricians:
“More importantly, I talked to the insurance providers – the people who actually pay the bills for the tests that are necessary to provide the better care. They said, ‘We will simply do the tests earlier.’…In fact it will result in better care for pregnant women. It will result in no barbaric, late-term abortion which results in physical pain to the baby. And it will make Georgia a leader in the pro-life movement. So I’m afraid my pro-choice opponent is badly out of step with Republican principles of life in this state.’
Bryant asked Quick if she would describe herself as pro-choice. Said Quick:
”I’m either more pro-choice than Representative McKillip by three weeks, or he’s more pro-life than me by three weeks. But those three weeks are constitutionally protected for a reason…Ask an obstetrician what requiring a C-section – which is what this bill does – at Week 20 will do for a woman’s future ability to have a child. That’s what’s at stake here for women with high-risk pregnancies. And it’s not to be politicized. It’s a complicated issue legally; it’s a complicated issue medically. I am personally against abortion. I’ve said this over and over. I’ve never had one. I’ve never paid for anybody to have one. And I’ve never counseled anyone to have one.”
McKillip dismissed Quick’s allegations about mandatory c-sections as “propaganda from the other side,” and called viability of the fetus “a horrible constitutional standard.” HB 954 seeks to replace viability with fetal pain as the ruling constitutional standard.
Georgia Tip Sheet notes that the state’s lone congressional white Democrat and its highest ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee almost have something in common:
Republican Rep. Jack Kingston only narrowly edged Democrat Rep. John Barrow in a new scorecard by conservative Club for Growth in which House lawmakers are graded for their position on a series of recent spending amendments.
Grading legislative action on 25 appropriations measures, the group gave Kingston the lowest score of the state’s entire Republican delegation. Voting in the affirmative for only 8 of those spending cuts, Kingston notched a 32 of 100.
Barrow scored a 16.
Words can hurt. And lawyers hired to defend those words can hurt even more. From the Fayette County Citizen:
To help recoup what has become more than $12,000 in legal fees spent to defend Mayor Don Haddix from a libel lawsuit, the Peachtree City Council voted to give him a significant pay cut.
It means that Haddix will be paid just under $75 a month for the last three months of the fiscal year, a reduction of approximately $650 a month….
Haddix was the lone vote against the motion, arguing that he was legally reimbursed for the fees, and that no council approval was needed for that to occur. Councilman George Dienhart said the matter could have been addressed had Haddix agreed to repay the money.
In an email to a city employee, Haddix had accused a previous mayor of showing up “part drunk” to council meetings. As part of a settlement, Haddix paid $3,000 to that former mayor. Who we’re absolutely certain is a sober pillar of moral rectitude.
The intensity of his opposition will matter more than anything else, but Erick Erickson, local radio host, CNN contributor and editor of Redstate.com, said he will vote no on the transportation sales tax. From the Macon Telegraph:
”I have no philosophical objection to the T-SPLOST and actually think a number of the projects are very worthwhile. But the underlying transportation bureaucracy is filled with waste and abuse that the T-SPLOST will not just subsidize, but probably make permanent. We should fix our transportation bureaucracy before going down this road.”
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at Republican challenger Stephen Simpson’s contention that U.S. Rep. Paul Broun has yet to pass a significant piece of legislation in Congress.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider