Georgia U.S. Senate candidates ready for new fight over abortion

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Georgia Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate are preparing for a new fight over abortion as the Supreme Court weighs whether to weaken the landmark Roe v. Wade decision with a ruling that could land in the teeth of the 2022 election cycle.

The leading Republicans competing to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock have each readied for the political clash, praising efforts to restrict abortion. That includes front-runner Herschel Walker, who initially dodged questions about his stance.

The candidates are highlighting their positions as the high court considers the fate of a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks into a pregnancy. The court’s six conservative jurists indicated in oral arguments that they could uphold the state’s law.

A decision isn’t expected until near the end of the court’s term, which means it could be delivered in late June or early July, just after the state’s May primary and around the time of a potential GOP Senate runoff.

Any decision that undermines the landmark 1973 decision would pave the way for new abortion restrictions in Georgia. Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation in 2019 that sought to outlaw abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected, usually about six weeks into a pregnancy. It was blocked from taking effect by a federal judge.

Powerful GOP state lawmakers are also aiming to pass new abortion restrictions next year modeled after a Texas statute that allows private citizens to sue anyone facilitating abortions.

The fight could energize conservatives who have long prioritized limiting abortions. But it could become a rallying cry for supporters of Warnock, a pastor who backs abortion rights, to make the case that electing Democrats will help preserve access to the procedure.

State Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, military veteran Kelvin King and former Navy SEAL Latham Saddler each reinforced his support for anti-abortion stances leading up to the Supreme Court argument, with King attacking Warnock’s position.

“This election, Georgia must elect a pro-life Senator who will fight for ALL Americans, including our innocent unborn,” he said in a statement.

Walker was initially more reluctant to join the debate, wading in only when asked. But he recently filled out a survey from the Georgia Life Alliance that supported outlawing abortion, including in instances of rape and incest.

“I am 100% pro-life. As Georgia’s next senator, I will vote for any legislation which protects the sanctity of human life, even if the legislation is not perfect,” he told the organization. “Every human life is valuable and absolutely worth saving.”

Warnock, meanwhile, reflected concerns that a Supreme Court ruling that paves the way for more anti-abortion measures would “endanger access to critical health care,” particularly for poor Georgians and women of color.

“I’ve always been a pro-choice pastor,” he said, “and believe health care decisions should be between a patient and their provider — not politicians.”