#ProWomen rally speaks out against 'heartbeat' law

In this file photo, Protestors march in opposition to the 'heartbeat' law Saturday during a #ProWomen rally on the historic Lowndes County Courthouse lawn. 

ATLANTA — A group of Georgia Republicans added their voices to U.S. lawmakers asking the Supreme Court to revisit its Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion.

The Republican lawmakers signed onto a friend of the court brief calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn two key abortion decisions — the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling.

The over 200 members of Congress sent the letter ahead of a Louisiana abortion case scheduled for March. The case challenges a 2014 state law, that would require doctors who perform abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the service.

It is the first abortion case to be considered with Justice Brett Kavanaugh serving on the Supreme Court.

In the brief, 39 U.S. Senators and 168 U.S. House members asked the court to ‘“reconsider” delegalizing abortion across the country. The brief argues that the Casey ruling — which upheld Roe v. Wade and barred states from putting an “undue burden” on access to abortion — should also be overturned.

Georgia GOP House members Doug Collins, Austin Scott, Buddy Carter, Rick Allen, Drew Ferguson IV, Tom Graves, Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk all penned their support of the brief. Their colleague Rob Woodall, did not sign.

A spokesperson for Woodall confirmed he did not sign the brief but did not provide a comment.

Collins, who has become a national figure during President Donald Trump impeachment hearings, said in a statement to CNHI that as a father and a pastor, he believes “we have a sacred responsibility to protect the lives of unborn children.”

“The Supreme Court will soon face a critical decision as they consider whether to uphold Louisiana’s pro-life law,” Collins said, “and I’m proud to join my colleagues in urging the court to protect both the dignity of unborn children and the health of vulnerable mothers.”

Scott, the Tifton Republican, also signed onto the brief.

"Innocent life must be protected at every stage,” Scott said in a statement to CNHI. “I am proud to join my colleagues in advocating for better protections for mothers, their unborn children, and the rights of states to enact health and safety regulations to protect women in vulnerable situations.”

Carter, who represents coastal Georgia, said that as a heath care professional, father and grandfather, he supports the idea that “life states at conception.”

“I also strongly believe babies who survive attempted abortions should have the necessary access to health care,” Carter said in a statement to CNHI. “That is why I joined Representative Steve Scalise and more than 200 other members of Congress in filing an amicus brief to support Louisiana’s pro-life law that would require all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals when emergencies occur. This is a commonsense law to protect lives of innocent babies and their mothers.”

Graves echoed his colleagues in a statement to CNHI.

"I have always protected and supported innocent life," he said. "I am proud to join my colleagues on this historic brief because every baby — born and unborn — has the right to life."

Abortion rights arguments have dominated conversation in the the South.

Abortion rights controlled Georgia politics last legislative session with the passage of the Georgia’s restrictive heartbeat bill — that would make abortion illegal once a doctor can detect a fetus’ heartbeat.

A federal judge deemed the law ‘unconstitutional’ and issued an injunction on the law in October, stopping it from going into effect on Jan. 1.

The argument divided parties further in the halls of the Capitol. While the injunction was a win for abortion rights activists, lawmakers were weary that the block would change the eventual outcome.

In a statement to CNHI, ACLU of Georgia said that the brief is another step in government looking to control women's reproductive decisions.

“The ACLU of Georgia will always defend women’s autonomy against governmental interference,” Andrea Young, executive director, said. “Opponents of reproductive health care are doing everything possible to overrule women’s own healthcare decisions.”

The anti-abortion stance has become a staple of the conservative GOP platform and an enemy of Democrats.

Senate-designate Kelly Loeffler — scheduled to be sworn into office by Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6 — has made restricting abortion a key part of her image. Loeffler received pushback from conservatives upon appointment for the Atlanta Dream — which Loeffler co-owns — taking part in a WNBA league initiative that donated portions of ticket sales to Planned Parenthood.

But during her appointment press conference, she said she is adamantly pro-life. Her swearing-in will put add another anti-abortion ally to Georgia’s federal delegation in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue was among a handful of GOP senators who chose not to sign the brief — many of them, including the Macon-born Republican, are up for re-election next year. Perdue does not tend to weigh in on matters pending litigation, according to staff. 

A spokeswoman for Perdue said that Perdue "has been and will continue to be a champion for life in the U.S. Senate."

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