The Jolt: An already heated debate over Georgia’s ‘heartbeat’ law is about to escalate

Abortion rights supporters at a rally gather outside the state Capitol last month. Alyssa Pointer/
Abortion rights supporters at a rally gather outside the state Capitol last month. Alyssa Pointer/

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@a

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@a

Don't kid yourself. The debate over Georgia's new "heartbeat" law, which would require most women to carry their pregnancies to term after six weeks, is just getting started. Consider:

-- On Thursday, state Sen. Renee Unterman of Buford, will announce her bid for the Seventh District congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville. Unterman, one of only two GOP women in her chamber, led the fight for HB 481 in the Senate. You can bet that several Democrats already in the contest – three of whom are women -- will target Unterman in order to give focus to their own campaigns.

-- The debate over abortion is all but certain to spread into the Democratic presidential contest. NBC News has a report this morning outlining former Vice President Joe Biden's relatively conservative stance opposing the federal funding of abortions. Biden still supports the Hyde Amendment, setting him apart from his 2020 Democratic competitors, NBC reports. Biden will be in Atlanta today for the first of two-days of politicking and fundraising.

Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, and Cory Booker will be in Atlanta as well. They’re not likely to let this difference with the frontrunning Biden slide.

-- Ahead of her trip to Hollywood next week, Democrat Stacey Abrams will hold a Wednesday evening conference call with rank-and-file workers in the film industry -- the same Georgia workers that Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed the "heartbeat" bill into law, has been accused of ducking.

-- On Wednesday evening, Abrams was on MSNBC's "All In," where she explained to host Chris Hayes her argument against an industry boycott over the "heartbeat" law. Said Abrams:

"Republicans spent the last 40 years building a narrative, but also building the capacity to push these bans across the country. And simply taking down or taking away jobs is not going to solve the fundamental problem of political power. 

"And so, my intention is to stay and fight, to build the political power to not only fight back against these bans and fight back against forced pregnancy, but to build the political capacity to not have the fight again for 40 more years."

-- Abrams' argument may be taking hold – at least in metro Atlanta. Spotted on the scene of a Stephen King supernatural drama: A placard directing workers at the set to The website has raised more than $10,000 for the ACLU and other groups seeking to challenge the law.


Remember this number: $347 million. That's the estimated added costs Georgians would pay on goods imported from Mexico, should President Donald Trump's threatened 5 percent tariff go into effect last week. The calculation comes from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and is based on the fact that Georgia imported $6.9 billion in goods from Mexico in 2018.

Neither Johnny Isakson nor David Perdue are mentioned in this morning's reports of a brewing revolt of Senate Republicans over the tariffs, meant to punish Mexico for not stopping the flow of migrants across its border with the U.S. You can expect both Georgia Republicans to speak up today.


WSB Radio's Jamie Dupree pointed us to a Twitter message sent out by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, marking the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. She included a video clip of a visit she made to the site two years after the '89 crackdown as a youthful backbencher from San Francisco.

The video shows the resulting confrontation with Beijing authorities – and a offers a glimpse of one of Pelosi's co-conspirators. The guy on the left is U.S. Rep. Ben Jones, a Democrat and former actor on TV's "Dukes of Hazzard" who then represented Georgia's Fourth Congressional District. Watch here:



Our AJC colleague Jeremy Redmon has major news out of Fort Benning. Federal officials from the Pentagon and Department of Health and Human Services are touring "unused property" at the sprawling Columbus-area military base today to see if it could house unaccompanied immigrant children apprehended along the southwest border. It's unclear how many children could be housed there and for how long.

One person who might be particularly interested in what happens next: Teresa Tomlinson, the former mayor of Columbus. She’s the only announced Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., who’s up for re-election next year.


Johnny Isakson will be in France later this week as leader of a bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators at a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion during World War II.

The Republican chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

The event at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer will also be attended by President Donald Trump, veterans and other world leaders.

U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk will also be there. The Cassville Republican’s father was an Army medic during the war and passed through the beaches of Normandy on his way to continental Europe.


We've already mentioned Renee Unterman, but this morning, another Republican has hopped into the crowded Seventh District congressional race. U.S. Air Force veteran Ben Bullock is the founder of a real estate investment firm. He plans to use his background in finance to "help tackle our national debt crisis, improve infrastructure, empower local businesses, and bring more jobs to Georgia's Seventh District."

Watch his introductory video here. The most interesting line: "Today we face a different kind of terror in the form of socialism." Cue images of Bernie Sanders, AOC, Elizabeth Warren, etc.


U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, has opened a new front in her gun control push. On Tuesday, she introduced a bill to create a federal "red flag" law, which would allow police or family members to seek court orders temporarily restricting people from obtaining firearms if they pose a danger to themselves or others.

"When people are in crisis and pose a threat to themselves or others, those closest to them are often the first to see the warning signs,"McBath said.

Fifteen states have enacted their own versions of the law, and the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the issue earlier this year. Even if McBath's bill passes the House, it's unlikely to get much traction in the Republican-led Senate.

The House approved one of McBath's top legislative priorities back in February, a federal background check measure. 


Georgia lawmakers in Washington voted along party lines yesterday on a House immigration bill that would offer a path to citizenship for so-called "dreamers" and other undocumented immigrants. The measure passed 237 to 187, marking the first time either chamber of Congress has passed a version of the Dream Act -- aimed at those who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children.

Republicans said the bill did not represent a serious attempt a legislating since Democrats did not consult with their party or address some of their party's biggest concerns, such as border security and changing asylum laws.

"Republicans want to provide legal status for DACA recipients," said U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, referring to the Obama-era program that provided legal status to Dreamers that President Donald Trump has cancelled. "We want to do it the right way — to minimize fraud, ensure criminals cannot get legal status and bolster border security. Without these commonsense and compassionate measures, we will find ourselves repeating this conversation a few years from now.”

About the Authors

In Other News