ATLANTA — With the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals set to hold a hearing on Georgia’s abortion bill next Friday, a top Republican state senator said a Texas-style abortion bill could be introduced in next January’s legislative session.
“Everything is on the table,” Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, told Capitol Beat Friday. “Our abortion law is being held up by the courts, but we’re confident it will be ultimately upheld. But my goal is to protect life, and we’re waiting to see what the courts say.”
Miller is also campaigning to be Georgia’s next lieutenant governor. Another GOP candidate for the post — state Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson — was recently endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Georgia’s abortion bill — HB 481, known as the Living Infants Fairness Equality Act — seeks to prevent abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, typically six weeks, except in special situations. Lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights eventually led the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to rule the law unconstitutional.
“We’ve been working with organizations such as the Georgia Life Alliance, and we’ll see what the courts say,” said Miller.
Earlier this week, in a virtual press conference, Georgia Democrats specifically expressed their concern that a Texas-style abortion bill could soon be introduced in the state.
“What happens in Texas won’t stay in Texas,” said state Rep. Beth Moore, D-Peachtree Corners. “Not every pregnancy is an immaculate conception or a Hollywood-produced drama. There is a limit to what government can impose, and the Republican Party wants to replace God with government.”
Like the Georgia bill, the Texas law prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks. The Texas law leaves enforcement to private citizens through civil lawsuits instead of criminal prosecutors.
If the 11th Circuit agrees with the district judge, Georgia could then appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which may then look at the law’s constitutionality and reexamine the precedent of Roe v. Wade.
Gov. Brian Kemp also is expected to call a special legislative session, likely in November, to redraw the state’s congressional and legislative districts under newly released U.S. Census figures.
“It has been suggested that while we’re in session, we could consider other measures, such as a Texas-modeled abortion law,” Moore said.
U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, said special legislative sessions are called for a specific purpose — such as redistricting — but a two-thirds majority vote of the General Assembly could expand its originally called purpose.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.