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Georgia's heartbeat law sponsor says measure is 'middle ground' in abortion debate

After Roe v. Wade, Rep. Setzler said he sees the "next step" to further restrict abortion in Georgia.

ACWORTH, Ga. — The Supreme Court's opinion to reverse Roe v. Wade Friday gave new hope to advocate for stricter abortion laws in Georgia, the creator of the state's heartbeat law said.

"All life is worthy of protection. I’d like to move in the direction of making that happen," said state Rep. Ed Setzler (D-Acworth), who pushed the 2019 Georgia's Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act through the House. Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill that spring. 

Setzler said he wants the court to allow the state to implement that law before taking any further steps to restrict abortion.

During the spring primary campaign, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue called on Kemp to convene a special session to enact an outright ban on abortion. Doing so in a special session would prevent a potential Democratic governor from vetoing such a bill.

Stacey Abrams will be the Democrat on the ballot against Kemp in November.

"Soon Georgia women will lose their right to choose before most even know they’re pregnant," Abrams lamented in a tweet after the Supreme Court ruling.

Georgia's heartbeat law would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Kemp is unlikely to call a special session, according to a spokesperson with his office. The heartbeat bill barely passed the Georgia House in 2019, and the legislative leg has fewer conservatives now.

However, Setzler called the 2019 bill a "middle ground," a compromise, in the abortion debate, a term pro-choice advocates would dispute; they view the law, now held up in court pending the Supreme Court decision, as extreme.

Friday Attorney General Chris Carr called on the US Circuit Court of Appeals to rule against the challenge to the Georgia measure, based on the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

"I think we’re at an appropriate middle ground to start the conversation moving forward. And I’d love to see some progress on that. But I wouldn’t want to prejudge when or if that would happen," Setzler said. 

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