At least 500 gathered in near freezing temperatures on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade for Georgia’s annual March for Life anti-abortion rally. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

Georgia anti-abortion advocates march, push lawmakers to act

With the sounding of taps over a loud speaker, more than 500 people began a silent march from the state Capitol in near-freezing temperatures to push legislators to pass laws limiting access to abortion.

The annual event, held on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortions, drew a crowd of supporters who said they were hopeful that this was the year Georgia — and the nation — outlaws the procedure.

Joe Webb, a retired project manager from Marietta, said he believes Gov. Brian Kemp will do his best to sign a law limiting access to abortion in Georgia. Kemp said during his campaign that he would sign the “toughest abortion laws in the country.”

“And I support a state bill,” said Webb, who spent his 72nd birthday at the rally and march. “But to me, it will really be settled once it’s outlawed at the federal level.”

Jessica DuBois, a lobbyist with the anti-abortion group Georgia Right to Life, said the organization plans to push for legislation that would define human life as beginning at conception. She said the change in definition, also known as personhood, would effectively outlaw abortion.

State Sen. Elena Parent, an Atlanta Democrat, called the idea of pushing personhood legislation a “fringe” effort.

“That has been debated before in Georgia,” Parent said. “There hasn’t been a state to move (personhood) forward because of the logistical and constitutional concerns. I view it as a general nonstarter.”

Sandy Springs resident Gina Mallica said she typically attends the national Right to Life March that was held last week, but this year she instead brought her 2-year-old daughter to the event in Atlanta since she was unable to travel to Washington.

She said while she’s encouraged by having a governor who supports ending abortion in Georgia, she’s disappointed nothing has happened on the national level in the two years since Donald Trump has been president.

“I was in Washington last year and (then-U.S. House Speaker) Paul Ryan said we would have an even bigger crowd the next year,” Mallica said. “But I don’t want to go to any more marches. That’s not the point.”

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