Before stepping into Gov. Brian Kemp’s ceremonial office for the Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act signing, I stood waiting with First Lady Marty Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan’s wife, Brooke. I turned around, and they both had tears in their eyes. That got me. I started crying too, and I remained emotional during my short remarks at the ceremony.
We commemorate many bill signings with events, with photos, with handshakes. The events don’t usually involve tears. But the “heartbeat bill” signing was particularly special to me – and obviously to Marty and Brooke too. In those moments, we weren’t public officials going through the ceremonial motions. We were women, we were moms, we were people of faith who believe that every human life is created in the image of God.
As parents, we’ve experienced the miracle of life. With today’s technology, parents can see their baby taking recognizable human shape in the early stages of pregnancy. As Rep. Ed Setzler said this week, you can show an ultrasound photo to a small child and they will respond that it’s “a baby.” That much is clear to the young eyes that don’t yet see through political prisms.
In the second month of a pregnancy, those ultrasounds show not only the outline of a tiny person but also a heartbeat. It is alive; it is growing; it is human.
Those powerful images have changed many people’s minds across the country, not just here in Georgia. Several other states – Ohio, Kentucky, North Dakota, Arkansas, Iowa and Mississippi — have passed heartbeat bills, and legislatures in many other states are considering them. Pro-abortion advocates seek to dehumanize the small person growing in its mother’s womb, calling him or her just a “cluster of cells.” It’s a form of denial that crumbles under the evidence seen on the ultrasound screen.
I didn’t need to have my mind changed. My passion for promoting the sanctity of all life springs from both principle and experience. That’s why I’ve authored or carried every piece of pro-life legislation passed by the General Assembly since I became a senator in 2003.
I dreamed of becoming a great mother, but I was unable to have children of my own. I adopted two children, Zak and Rachel, who are my pride and joy. I never knew Zak’s birth mother. I brought him home from the Air Force base where he was born four weeks premature. When we landed in Atlanta, the pilot announced that baby Zak was home, and our fellow passengers applauded. I had the opportunity to accompany Rachel’s birth mother through every step of the process, and I was there for the joyous moment when my daughter was born.
I can never repay the debt to those two women. They loved precious children they couldn’t raise, and they had the courage and the resilience to bring the human life inside them into this world to live in a loving family.
Women like these deserve more than our praise and appreciation. They deserve our support. That’s why I’ve worked to greatly improve Georgia’s adoption and foster care systems. And it’s why we partnered with Gov. Kemp this year to significantly expand our state’s investment in battling infant and maternal mortality rates.
I am driven by the belief that we must do all we can to help vulnerable, powerless people at every stage of life. It’s why I led to help children escape the scourge of sex trafficking. It’s why I’ve worked to fight elder abuse. It’s why I’ve focused attention on the need for better mental health resources.
The Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act furthers our aim of standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, is chairwoman of the Senate Science and Technology Committee.
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