by Steven Ertelt
February 20, 2008
Atlanta, GA (LifeNews.com) — A state legislative committee in Georgia voted 4-3 on Wednesday to kill a personhood bill that would establish legal rights for unborn children starting at conception. The bill had the backing of Georgia Right to Life and numerous state legislators who hoped it could be used to overturn Roe v. Wade.
HR 536 was the Paramount Right to Life amendment that would extend constitutional protection to unborn children from the moment of fertilization without regard to age, race, sex, health, function, or condition of dependency.
Committee chairman Ed Lindsey ultimately called for tabling the bill after seven hours of debate lasting two days because he was concerned about legal issues resulting from it.
This proposed constitutional amendment seeks to make a direct attack on Roe v. Wade. In fact, however, the overwhelming evidence is that such an attack through this type of constitutional amendment will in all likelihood fail," he said.
After tabling the personhood, the committee voted to give than other measure, HR 1, a "do not pass." That was legislation that would have declared all abortions illegal in Georgia.
Rep. Martin Scott, a Republican legislator behind the proposals, said he would try to get Speaker Glenn Richardson to bring the bill to the House floor.
Its time we allow the people of Georgia to have a vote … so we can begin to protect life in Georgia," he told the committee. Weve been dealing with this for a year. It is time. I ask you not to table. Give me an up or down vote.
During the committee debate, pro-life attorney David Gibbs, who had been one of the lead lawyers in helping the Schindler family protect Terri Schiavo, said the bill was constitutional.
This can be done, said Gibbs. It can be done constitutionally. It can be done correctly in a way it could be legal.
The debate over the personhood bill led to a split within the pro-life community with some saying they supported the measure and others worrying it would add to the pro-Roe Supreme Court precedent.
Georgia Right to Life backed the measure while the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta said it would make more sense to wait until the Supreme Court has a pro-life majority.
The constitutional amendment Scott put forward is similar to ones in other states like Colorado and Montana, where they have produced similar debates about the best strategy to end abortions.
Scott says that passing House Resolution 536 would make Georgia the first completely pro-life state that outlaws every objectionable practice that targets unborn children or the disabled.
The Thomas More Law Center, a pro-life law firm based in Michigan, drew up the legislation and it focuses on establishing a full-fledged right to life for unborn children.
The state legislature has approved other pro-life laws that have lowered abortions. Though Georgia’s population has increased 42 percent, the number of abortions has dropped 18 percent.