Georgia House Speaker David Ralston voiced his frustration Tuesday over the Senate’s refusal to negotiate on legislation that bans abortions five months after conception.
Ralston told reporters that the Senate is dodging a difficult issue. House lawmakers earlier rejected a Senate attempt to loosen the restrictions in the bill, but the Senate insisted on the changes.
“Now that we’re at the point where we can really pass a significant bill that can save the lives of many unborn children, then they’ve decided to tuck and run,” Ralston said.
The original proposal from Republican Rep. Doug McKillip would have banned most abortions five months into a pregnancy. He made exceptions for when a pregnancy threatened the mother’s life or physical health.
The state Senate voted Monday to pass a changed version of the bill that would allow a doctor to perform an abortion after five months if he diagnosed the fetus with a fatal defect. Ralston and GOP leaders in the House were unhappy with the changes.
Sen. Renee Unterman, a Republican from Buford who carried the bill in the Senate, voted against the amendment but in favor of the overall bill. She said the Legislature is now in “a game of chess.”
“Nothing is dead until the last gavel,” Unterman said, adding that she prefers the original House version of the bill with no amendments. “There are many bills I’ve had to compromise on. If you can’t have your cake, you eat part of the cake.”
Sen. John Bulloch, R-Ocklochnee, who supported changing the bill and voted for its passage a day earlier, distanced himself from the debate on Tuesday.
“It’s in the hands of the House,” he said. “They need to approve what we sent them.”