Family Policy Alliance Executive Director Cole Muzio announced the group’s support of anti-abortion candidates and plans to target lawmakers who voted against Georgia’s “heartbeat” law. Maya T. Prabhu/maya.prabhu@ajc.com

Anti-abortion group targets lawmakers who oppose ‘heartbeat’ law

Anti-abortion groups rallied Thursday behind metro Atlanta Republicans who voted for Georgia’s new “heartbeat” law and said they are targeting the seats of newly elected Democrats in Gwinnett County.

The Family Policy Alliance of Georgia launched its statewide campaign to support anti-abortion candidates in Buford with vows to “take back” Gwinnett.

Shortly after the legislative session ended, the group released a list of 12 lawmakers who voted againstHouse Bill 481, including two Republicans. Most on the list represent metro Atlanta districts.

HB 481, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, bans most abortions once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity — which is usually about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women know they’re pregnant.

The Family Policy Alliance was one of the groups to lobby in support of the legislation.

It also organized Thursday’s event. Others there included members of the Conservative Diversity Alliance and Gwinnett College Republicans.

Several private security and county law enforcement officers were on hand to keep an eye on the press conference, held at Gwinnett County GOP headquarters in Gwinnett Place Mall.

Cole Muzio, the group’s executive director and a Gwinnett resident, specifically called out first-term Democratic state Reps. Beth Moore of Peachtree CornersGreg Kennard of Lawrenceville and Jasmine Clark of Tucker. Each won his or her race by less than 700 votes in districts that had been represented by Republicans.

“These districts have voted for life in the past,” Muzio said. “They will reject these radical positions. We look forward to making each of them one-term legislators.”

Muzio said the Family Policy Alliance is working to recruit candidates, raise money and campaign in support of candidates who oppose abortion.

Georgia Democrats have consistently vowed to challenge Republican lawmakers who voted for HB 481. Groups such as Planned Parenthood and the Georgia WIN List, and state Democrats have begun fundraising and candidate recruitment campaigns. Several women have announced their intent to run for office against Republicans next year.

State Sen. Renee Unterman, a Buford Republican, said it took courage for her and her colleagues to move HB 481 through the General Assembly this year.

“We have been threatened and we have been told ‘you vote for this bill, and you’re out of office,’ ” Unterman said. “Well, I’m here to tell you, when we hit the streets in 2020, we are proud of the work that we have done.”

Unterman announced her campaign for the 7th Congressional District last week.

Gwinnett County GOP Chairman Edward Muldrow said Republicans got “complacent” in 2018, something he said shouldn’t happen again.

“We essentially thought we had it in the bag — and look what happened,” he said.

Two Democrats joined Gwinnett’s five-member County Commission in January — becoming the panel’s first Democratic members in more than 30 years. And Democrats flipped six state legislative seats to give them control of the county’s legislative delegation.

“From here on out, our goal and our mission is to take back Gwinnett,” Muldrow said. “If you are not with us, then you are against us.”

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