GA Legislative Update

Georgia 2012 Legislation to Watch
All legislation introduced last session is still alive this session because the Georgia General Assembly operates on a two-year legislative cycles. Many of the below anticipated issues are carried over from last session, but there are some new issues, including personhood legislation introduced in the House of Representatives.

Abortion Access:
House Bill 1 (HB 1 – Franklin) - Crimes and offenses; prenatal murder: HB 1 criminalizes all abortions and makes performing an abortion a felony in Georgia. It is yet another attempt to outlaw abortion in Georgia.  As written, this legislation is unconstitutional. While this bill is introduced just about every legislative session with little attention, during the 2011 session the provision requiring a woman to prove her miscarriage made national headlines. This bill is in the Judiciary committee.

House Bill 89 (HB 89 – Peake) – The Doctor-Patient Interference Bill:  HB 89 seeks to regulate the performance of abortions past 20 weeks regardless of a woman’s individual circumstances. Most women with high-risk pregnancies, who know that their own lives or their fetuses are at risk, must have every medical option — including ending the pregnancy — available to them to consider in consultation with medical professionals, religious advisers, family members, friends, and other people they trust. A woman facing difficult decisions needs the best care she can get, not interference in the doctor-patient relationship. The bill’s “medical emergency” exception is inadequate to protect women’s mental and physical health. Rape victims, incest victims, women with severe fetal anomalies and others will be forced to carry their pregnancies to term if this bill passes.  This bill is in the Health and Human Services committee.
House Resolution 1072 (HR 1072 – Crawford) “Right to Life Vested from Moment of Fertilization” Constitutional Amendment This proposed constitutional amendment is the House companion to SR 153. This proposed constitutional amendment to establish ”personhood” from the moment of fertilization without regard to age, race, sex, health, function, or condition of dependency. HR 1072’s implications are so broad that it could potentially ban abortion in Georgia, as well as certain forms of contraception and prevent women from utilizing assisted reproductive technology. It could also ban the use of stem cells for biomedical research in Georgia.
Senate Bill 209 (SB 209 – Loudermilk) -- The “Make Abortion Inaccessible” Act: SB 209 was initially the identical Senate companion bill to HB 89. Last session the legislation was fast-tracked: instead of being sent to a regular subject standing committee first (such as Health and Human Services or Judiciary), the bill was sent directly to the Rules committee to be heard. On the day of the hearing, a substitute bill requiring all abortions to be performed in hospitals was introduced. Medical professionals and hospital administrators testified against this bill, citing the unreasonable burden it would place on hospitals in Georgia. The bill was tabled in the Rules committee.
Senate Bill 29 (SB 29 – Hill) – “Federal Abortion-Mandate Opt-Out Act”: SB 29 prohibits health insurance plans in the state-based health care exchanges from providing abortion care benefits to women in Georgia.  This would eliminate insurance benefits for women by stripping away coverage they currently have, creating drastic and dangerous implications for women in need of serious medical care resulting from complex and sometimes life-threatening pregnancies. Senator Hill first introduced this as SB 4, withdrew it, and then introduced SB 29, which removed exemptions for the health of the mother, rape and incest that were in his original bill (SB 4).  This bill is in the Insurance and Labor committee.
Senate Bill 210 (SB 210 – Loudermilk) – Allows Wrongful Death Suits on Behalf of Fetuses: SB 210, a tort bill, would give standing to a woman and her family to sue a physician for wrongful death even if the physician followed all Georgia laws regarding abortion. This was assigned to the Senate Rules committee, rather than Judiciary.  The bill was brought up for discussion with no notice and was then passed through in a matter of minutes with an addition to the committee called in to make quorum.  This bill was passed out of the Senate Rules Committee and passed the Senate on Crossover Day with one significant change. The full Senate adopted an amendment by Senator Curt Thompson that deleted section (e) of the bill which would have allowed a woman to testify to the contrary even if she had signed the necessary informed consent documents.  An amendment by Senator Cowsert would hold a physician harmless if the woman lied about her age or other key facts.  This bill is currently in the House Judiciary committee.
Senate Resolution 153 (SR 153 – Loudermilk) – Paramount Right to Life Act; Constitutional Amendment: SR 153 is a proposed constitutional amendment to establish ”personhood” from the moment of fertilization without regard to age, race, sex, health, function, or condition of dependency. SR 153’s implications were so broad that it could have potentially banned abortion in Georgia, as well as certain forms of contraception and prevented women from utilizing assisted reproductive technology. It could have also banned the use of stem cells for biomedical research in Georgia. This bill is currently in the Rules committee.
Access to Health Care: Senate Bill 20 (SB 20 – Hill) – Implementation of the Affordable Care Act: This bill would prohibit any agency of state government to implement provisions of federal health reform legislation without authorization by the General Assembly.  Several elements of the nation’s new health care law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will be implemented at the state level. This bill places barriers and impedes the implementation process. The bill is currently in the Health and Human Services committee.
Minors: Senate Bill 127 (SB 127 – Hamrick) – The Child Protection and Public Safety Act: This bill, also known as the children’s code rewrite, will help thousands of children and families in Georgia. This bill will help abused and neglected children transition from foster care to successful adulthood, prohibit the use of juvenile jails and prisons for children who have not committed a crime, and ensure Georgia’s compliance with federal laws regarding abused, neglected, and other at-risk children. This bill is in the Judiciary committee.
What Can You Do To Help?

It will be the strength of our voices that will ensure that our side prevails.  Make sure you are informed.  Sign up for Planned Parenthood’s Action Network (PPAN) at www.plannedparenthood.org/ppse; then click “Take Action.”  Through PPAN you’ll be able to take direct action and voice your opinion to your elected officials on critical issues.

Legislative Contacts:

Nikema Williams 404.567.8310 Nikema.Williams@ppfa.org 

 
 
 

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