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State Rep. Ed Setzler and other supporters had little room to spare: The vote earlier this month was 93-73. And the longer the wait, the more time for opponents to rally against it.
Setzler said in an interview that he initially had closer to 100 supporters, but several were absent Friday.
“There were very, very aggressive attacks by our political opponents trying to politicize this, trying to twist the issue,” said Setzler, blaming Democratic “vitriol” for the narrow vote.
State Rep. Erica Thomas speaks with a Georgia State Patrol officer after the anti-abortion bill passed the House. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Just like earlier this month, a single Democrat defied his party to support the measure: State Rep. Mack Jackson, a pastor from Sandersville. Democratic leaders have already vowed to back a primary challenge next year to oust him from office.
“I will call out the members of our party who say they are for us, and voted for this bill and pushed it over the top,” said state Rep. Erica Thomas of Austell. “This is a mess.”
Five Republicans voted against the measure, including two who also opposed it earlier this month: State Reps. Deborah Silcox of Sandy Springs and Butch Parrish of Swainsboro.
Joining them were two Republicans who were absent during the last vote. State Rep. Sharon Cooper, who chairs the House Health Committee that initially approved the bill, and state Rep. Chuck Martin of Alpharetta.
In an interview, Martin said he’s a staunch opponent of abortion rights and pointed to his support for past restrictions. But he said he voted against the latest measure because it would “criminalize the practice of medicine.”
“I’m pro-life and I’m going to go home with my head up pro-life,” he said. “This bill gives me concerns that even proponents say it’s more likely than not to be unconstitutional and may not ever be enforced. That gives me pause to the pro-life cause.”
And one GOP lawmaker, state Rep. Jay Powell of Camilla, voted for the measure earlier this month but against it on Friday. He could not immediately be reached for comment.
Eight other lawmakers were excused: Republicans Dave Belton of Buckhead, Gerald Greene of Cuthbert, Brett Harrell of Snellville, Jeff Jones of Brunswick, Todd Jones of Cumming, Dave Rutledge of McDonough and Ron Stephens of Savannah. Democrat Mickey Stephens of Savannah was also absent.