By: Senator William Ligon (R – White Oak)
This week, the Senate took up a total of 25 bills, one of which is the single most important bill we voted on this session. The Constitution of the United States lays out our rights and tells us that the right to life and property are protected. But today in Georgia, an unborn child’s rights are virtually non-existent, and even our property has more protection under the law than that of an unborn child. Every day, too many unborn children are unjustly aborted because they are not seen as equal to you and I. This bill changes that by legally recognizing these unborn children as persons and by providing them the same rights and protections as we have.
In a party-line vote, 34-18, the Senate passed House Bill 481, also known as the LIFE (Living Infants Fairness and Equality) Act. The bill would prohibit abortions in this state after the heartbeat of the child in the womb is medically established. Some exceptions are included in the bill. Even after the heartbeat is detected, if the pregnancy is a threat to the life of the mother, if it is a medically futile pregnancy, or if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, a mother still has the option to terminate the pregnancy up to 20 weeks.
Like Governor Brian Kemp, I understand why both sides of this debate are so passionate. But, I proudly voted in favor of this legislation. HB 481 is about protecting our most vulnerable members of the human family, whose little hearts beat in rhythm with our own. Through scientific evidence, we know that those unique individuals with their own DNA and blood type should be recognized as persons in the laws of our state and protected accordingly.
There have been many times in our history where our legal system has failed to recognize an entire class of individuals as “persons,” and as a result failed to protect them or confer upon them all the rights they should have had under our federal and state constitutions. Think of the terrible system of slavery. We were wrong, and we paid a heavy price. Casualties from the Civil War exceeded casualties in all the wars combined that this nation fought, up to the Vietnam War. In total, from America’s founding until now, our war casualties are less than 2 million soldiers. Yet, our nation has lost 60 million innocent babies through abortion, just since 1973. This carnage must stop.
We can no longer turn our hearts away from an entire class of our most fragile individuals. We are destroying our own posterity. Our paramount duty, as stated in our Georgia Constitution, is the protection of person and property. Our U.S. Constitution reminds us that it was formed not only to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves,” but also to “our Posterity.” Though yet unborn, these babies are our posterity, and they have a 95 percent chance to be carried successfully to term once a heartbeat has begun.
I am grateful to the bill’s author, Rep. Ed Setzler, and glad that most of my colleagues agreed with the bill’s language. We have transmitted this legislation back to the House for agreement. Upon their approval, they will send it to the Governor for his signature.
Additionally, House Bill 197, passed the Senate this week. It’s the product of hard work by several Senators to help promote data sharing between agencies. Specifically, HB 197 would direct the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget to establish a functioning Georgia Data Analytic Center before September 1, 2019. HB 197 specifies that the Center would securely maintain and transmit state health care data in accordance with HIPAA privacy standards. For years now, our state agencies have cited inefficiencies because of the lack of sharing information. This bill addresses that by allowing an agency to be established to facilitate and help with the dissemination of information that will help these agencies better perform their duties.
We now have just one week and a couple of days left in this year’s session. If you have questions about bills that we have passed or want a status report on upcoming bills, please feel free to contact my office. You can also let me know your views about the legislation that we are considering over the next few days. It is my duty to represent you and your interests under the Gold Dome. Thank you for your continued trust and support.
Sen. William Ligon Jr. serves as Chairman of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. He represents the 3rd Senate District which includes Brantley, Camden, Glynn, and McIntosh counties and portions of Charlton County. He can be reached by phone at 404.463.1383 or by email at email@example.com