Georgia Republicans join call to overturn Roe v. Wade

Amanda M. Usher/Valdosta Daily-Times

In this file photo, protesters march in opposition to Georgia's "heartbeat" abortion law during a #ProWomen rally on the Lowndes County Courthouse lawn.

ATLANTA — A group of Georgia Republicans added their voices to U.S. lawmakers asking the U.S. 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 Supreme Court to overturn two key abortion decisions, the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling.

More than 200 members of Congress sent the letter ahead of a Louisiana abortion case scheduled for March. The case challenges a 2014 state law that requires doctors who perform abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the service. It will be 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” legalizing 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 became a national figure during the impeachment hearings of President Donald Trump, 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.”

"Innocent life must be protected at every stage,” Scott, a Tifton Republican, 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 starts 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 Rep. 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 were a hot topic of conversation during the 2019 legislative session in Georgia given the passage of the "heartbeat" bill that sought to make abortion illegal once a doctor can detect a fetus’ heartbeat. A federal judge deemed the law "unconstitutional" and issued an injunction against it in October, stopping it from going into effect on Jan. 1.

In a statement to CNHI, the ACLU of Georgia said 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 health care decisions.”

The anti-abortion stance has become a staple of the conservative GOP platform.

Georgia U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler has made restricting abortion a key part of her legislative approach. She received pushback from conservatives upon her appointment by Gov. Brian Kemp for the Atlanta Dream, which she 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.

Georgia 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 reelection this year. Perdue does not tend to weigh in on matters involving pending litigation, according to his staff.

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

Riley Bunch covers the Georgia Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites.

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