Anti-abortion mandates passed by the Georgia House

Mandates that would require the state to track abortions and ban the sale of aborted fetal tissue both passed the Georgia House on Wednesday, adding to anti-abortion measures on the move at the Georgia Capitol.

House Bill 555, sponsored by state Rep. Joyce Chandler, R-Grayson, would require the Juvenile Court and Administrative Office of the Courts to compile and deliver statistics on girls 17 and younger who seek an abortion without notifying their parents. State health officials are already required to keep track of those numbers, but Chandler said the additional mandate in the bill would help the state keep more accurate records.

“As a state, we require certain statistical data be reported on various medical procedures and court procedures,” Chandler said. “That’s just what this bill does. We want to ensure we’re receiving accurate facts about Georgia’s young women and their health decisions.”

Not everyone agreed. Among the no votes on the bill’s party line 119-51 passage was state Rep. Nikki Randall, D-Macon, who called it “a solution looking for a problem.”

House Bill 762, sponsored by state Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, would prevent anyone including doctors who perform abortions from selling aborted fetal tissue. Anyone guilty of doing this could face up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Willard has said he wanted to make state law clearer, since there is already a current mandate that says fetal tissue from abortions may only be cremated or buried. Plus, it is illegal under federal law to sell or purchase any kind of human tissue.

The change proposed by the bill, he said, would be an outright prohibition on the sale of fetal tissue. The bill, however, would continue to allow for the donation of fetal tissue for research purposes to hospitals, colleges, universities and research facilities.

Willard said his proposal was inspired by the controversy last year over the release of covertly filmed videos that Planned Parenthood’s critics said showed it profits from the sale of body parts after abortions. Two people involved in producing those videos were recently indicted by a Texas grand jury that investigated the allegations against Planned Parenthood.

Both HB 555 and HB 762 now go to the Senate for consideration. They follow passage in the Senate last week of Senate Bill 308, which would make state grants available to dozens of pregnancy resource centers across Georgia as an attempt to present a "positive alternative" to restricting women's access to abortions.

SB 308 is now under consideration in the House.

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