ATLANTA — House Bill 481, which outlaws abortions after a doctor has determined a heartbeat, passed through the House of Representatives late Thursday night by a 93-73 vote and will proceed to the Senate before its chance to land on the desk of Governor Brian Kemp.
Kemp expressed strong support for the bill's passage in a video released yesterday afternoon.
"Georgia is a state that values life. We shield the vulnerable and shelter the innocent. I applaud the Health and Human Services Committee for advancing legislation to protect the unborn. I encourage the House and Senate to do the same," Kemp stated.
"This is a powerful moment in Georgia. It’s bigger than politics and partisanship. Let’s champion life today and ensure that all Georgians – including the unborn – have the chance to live, grow, and prosper. Thank you, and God Bless."
Mike Griffin, Public Affairs representative for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, told The Index, "This is the most significant piece of pro-life legislation passed in the Georgia House since Roe vs. Wade."
The bill would become one of the most restrictive in the country if passed. A doctor can typically detect a baby's heartbeat by the mother's sixth week of pregnancy. Currently, Georgia allows abortions at up to 20 weeks gestation.
As Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) introduced the legislation, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that at least 20 Democrats stood with their backs turned. In speaking against the measure, Rep. Renitta Shannon of Decatur remained at the podium after her allotted time had run out, prompting House Speaker David Ralston to cut her mic before security and Shannon's fellow Democrats escorted her away.
Griffin thanked legislators, including Setzler by name, and supporters in a video from the Capitol.
"Praise the Lord; we have a lot to be thankful for. Thank the Lord for your prayers; thank you for your support. Thank you, Georgia Baptists, for making those phone calls and doing what you could to contact our representatives [to] let them you know that you want them fighting for life.
"And thank you, to Governor Brian Kemp ... keeping his campaign promise he made to pass some of the toughest abortion laws against the taking of human life in our state.
"We are standing for life here in the state of Georgia."
From this point, the bill passes over to the Senate where it will have until April 2 to be passed out of the Rules Committee and onto the floor for a vote.
Griffin urged Georgia Baptists to remain informed of the bill as it passes into committee.
"I pray you'll continue to be focused on this issue as we look at protecting innocent life here in the state of Georgia," he said.
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