In her first turn behind a Capitol Hill witness table, state Sen. Jen Jordan on Tuesday hit on many of the same notes she did last month in a speech that went viral opposing Georgia’s “heartbeat” abortion bill.
The Atlanta Democrat recounted her eight miscarriages and gut-wrenching medical decisions she made with her husband at doctors’ offices. She drew parallels between Georgia’s 20-week abortion, the state’s skyrocketing mortality rates and drying up health care options in rural Georgia. And she discussed House Bill 481, the measure that would restrict abortions after a doctor detects a heartbeat in a woman’s womb that Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to sign this month.
Despite the emotional testimony, Jordan was doubtful she changed any minds about abortion as she exited the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing room.
“As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I absolutely didn’t,” the attorney said. “But you have to start these conversations, and the whole point is maybe we’ll have less political grandstanding and more conversations.”
Jordan and four other women testified about the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill, which is co-sponsored by Georgia U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue and eight of the state’s nine House Republicans, closely mirrors a bill Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law in 2012.
Republican senators who spoke at the hearing mainly questioned the three anti-abortion witnesses, who offered deeply personal and occasionally graphic stories about attempted abortions and how the procedures are carried out. Few questioned Jordan.
“That kind of threw me off a little bit because I thought it would be a little more hot bench,” said Jordan, who said she expected more officials to question her about the law and her interpretation of it.
Overall, the mood of the hearing was polite. Senators avoided confronting the witnesses they disagreed with, and there were no raucous protests like the ones that took over the Georgia Capitol last month.
Jordan did attract a political tracker, who silently filmed her walking out of the hearing before being turned away by a Capitol Hill staffer and police officer.
Her testimony also caught the attention of some Republicans back in Georgia. Scott Johnson, a candidate to lead the state GOP, tweeted that Jordan has become Georgia’s version of Wendy Davis, the Texas senator who made national waves in 2013 for filibustering anti-abortion legislation for 13 hours.
Jordan was one of two witnesses invited by Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, to testify against the legislation. The opportunity came less than three weeks after her dissenting speech against the heartbeat bill earned her national attention, as well as some buzz about her potentially challenging Perdue in 2020.
Jordan dodged questions about her political future on Tuesday but indicated she was keeping her options open.
“What I have realized in life is to never say never,” she said. “If you were to tell me I was going to be a state senator two years ago I would have laughed at you. But you kind of take the opportunities where you think they’re there. I also have a lot more considerations in the sense that I’ve got a 10-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son and a full-time law practice.”
She said Tuesday’s hearing would likely be her last bit of federal advocacy work for the time being.
“I’ve got to get back to work at some point and make a living,” she said. “But yeah, it was interesting. It was an interesting day.”
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