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Opinion: Ga.’s HB 481 will protect mothers, unborn children

The Gold Dome.
The Gold Dome.

The Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act is worthy of being enacted into law because it is scientifically and legally sound and passes the common-sense test of everyday Georgians. As the Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology, the first time a new technology ever led me to tears was a television commercial that depicted a young mother gazing into the face of her unborn child through the screen of a 4D ultrasound (YouTube: GE First Time). With Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” playing as background, this 60-second commercial was, for me, an unmistakable reminder that children inside their mothers are one of us - members of the human community who deserve full legal protection.

The Georgia legislature, a citizen body of working professionals which consists of doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, teachers, and businesspeople, is advancing the LIFE Act (HB-481) because science tells us that a child with a beating heart has crossed the definitive scientific threshold in which they have a 95 percent chance of being carried to term and the definitive medical threshold that for centuries has established the presence of human life: the heartbeat.

In the face of vitriol from pro-abortion legislators and shout-downs from costumed activists, Georgia legislators are advancing the LIFE Act because it is also legally sound. HB-481 is unlike any other “heartbeat bill” in the nation by establishing the legal personhood of the unborn child. Quoting the text of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade (1973) opinion, if the “personhood [of the child] is established, the [pro-abortion] appellant’s case, of course, collapses for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [Fourteenth] Amendment.” Informed by the Roe decision itself, the LIFE Act is built on the long established foundation of a state’s authority to recognize a person’s rights more expansively than the minimum required by federal law. As examples of this, Georgia currently provides more expansive privacy and eminent domain protections than the U.S. Constitution requires; also, many states recognized a woman’s right to vote long before the 19th Amendment required it.

In passing the LIFE Act, Georgia is applying common sense in how it balances the individual liberty of pregnant mothers with the right to life of the distinct persons living inside of them. In addition to the generous prenatal care benefits that Georgia already provides, HB-481 extends important new benefits to expecting mothers such as access to child support from the baby’s father and a full dependent tax deduction. In extending these tangible benefits, the legislature cannot ignore the fact that abortion is an act that is so ugly most people avoid even talking about it. This out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach is what allowed racial segregation to fester for decades after the Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) decision, until television cameras brought the ugliness of segregation into Americans’ living rooms for the first time in the 1950’s.

Ironically, while the picture of aborted children is too horrific to be shown on modern television, the out-of-sight, out-of-mind reality of the Roe vs. Wade (1973) decision festers on with the destruction more than 27,000 human beings each year in Georgia alone. An appropriate reference is the riveting five-minute testimony of former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levantino before the U.S. Congress as he tells the story of abortion in clear medical terms (YouTube: Anthony Levantino).

While allowing for abortion in cases of rape, incest, risks to the life of the mother, medically futile pregnancies, and for any reason through six weeks of pregnancy, HB-481 seeks a consensus by putting an end to elective abortion as a means of birth control at the point that a child has a detectable heartbeat. Applying science, law, and common sense to achieve a careful balance for both mothers and children, the LIFE Act is law that is worthy of support from across our state’s diverse cultural, socioeconomic, religious, and political spectrum.

State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) has represented a portion of Cobb County in the Georgia House of Representatives since 2005. He is chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology.