Georgia GOP Senate leader eyeing Texas’ restrictive abortion law

Lieutenant Governor candidate and Georgia Senate Pro-Tem Butch Miller speaks at the Georgia GOP State Convention in Jekyll Island, Georgia on June 5th, 2021. Nathan Posner for the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution

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Lieutenant Governor candidate and Georgia Senate Pro-Tem Butch Miller speaks at the Georgia GOP State Convention in Jekyll Island, Georgia on June 5th, 2021. Nathan Posner for the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution

Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller is hoping to pass portions of Texas’ new restrictive abortion law in Georgia next legislative session.

Miller, a Gainesville Republican who is running for lieutenant governor against an opponent backed by former President Donald Trump, said he is working with anti-abortion groups to write the legislation.

The Texas statute is similar to a Georgia law that a federal judge blocked last year that would have banned abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected, usually about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women know they’re pregnant. Georgia’s law also extends legal rights to fertilized eggs. The case challenging the Georgia law will be heard in a federal appeals court on Sept. 24.

“We have one of the strongest pro-life laws in the nation, but it’s not in effect,” Miller said. “Because of the courts, it’s not currently saving the lives it was intended to save. If the Texas model allows us to move forward with a pro-life law, I’ll work to get it done.”

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month allowed Texas’ new law to go into effect, which also bans abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected.

Texas’ law allows private citizens to sue anyone involved in facilitating abortions. For example, that would include anyone who drives a woman to a clinic to get an abortion. Under the law, anyone who successfully sues another person in that situation would be entitled to at least $10,000.

It’s the enforcement of the law that’s caught the eye of some Georgia Republicans, said Joshua Edmonds, the executive director of the anti-abortion Georgia Life Alliance.

“While our 2019 ‘heartbeat bill’ is still being litigated and we’re committed to seeing that law go into effect, the prospect of a Texas-style law going into effect may be too good for many to pass up,” Edmonds said. “This would just be a stop-gap until our original ‘heartbeat bill’ eventually goes into effect.”

Georgia Democratic lawmakers are bracing for potential Texas legislation to spread to other states, saying during a Wednesday press conference that they will fight any efforts in Georgia.

“Watching what happened in Texas was like reliving the trauma that Georgia Republicans inflicted on our state back in 2019,” said state Rep. Beth Moore, a Peachtree Corners Democrat. “But if you look at the vote tally, it passed (in Georgia) by two votes. Two votes. That is hardly a mandate in Georgia that the state wants this.”

Miller is running against two other Republican candidates for the lieutenant governor nomination, including his colleague state Sen. Burt Jones, a Jackson Republican who was recently endorsed by Trump. A spokesman for Jones said while the candidate was supportive of anti-abortion laws, he would need to know the particulars of the proposed legislation before weighing in.