June 5, 2012

Abortion surfaces as runoff issue for lawmaker

ATLANTA — A Georgia lawmaker who led the effort to tighten abortion restrictions in the state faces a primary challenge from a Republican lawyer who says the new law intrudes on decisions that she says are better left to women and doctors.

Regina Quick is running against state Rep. Doug McKillip of Athens in the July 31 primary.

McKillip’s measure, which takes effect next year, generally bans abortion after five months of pregnancy except in cases where a doctor determines that a fetus cannot survive outside the womb or a pregnancy threatens the life or health of the mother. Women in Georgia can now seek abortions for any reason until the last three months of a pregnancy. While McKillip voted for the final bill, his initial proposal lacked exceptions for fetuses that are unlikely to survive.

Senate Republicans loosened the original restrictions in legislation adopted on the final day of the General Assembly’s session.

The debate echoes larger one inside Georgia’s Statehouse and nationally over when abortion should be limited. Quick, an attorney, said the state has an interest in preventing abortions once a fetus has a reasonable chance of surviving outside the womb at the 23- or 24-week mark, a legal standard commonly called “viability.”

“It’s at that point that the baby has a fighting chance in this world,” Quick told the Athens Banner-Herald (http://bit.ly/Ldc2iv).

Quick said women and their doctors should decide when to end a pregnancy in the sixth month, a period she called a legal and medical gray area.

“(The law) interferes with the patient-physician relationship during that critical time frame,” she said.

McKillip has said viability is an inadequate standard because advances in medical technology make it difficult to predict when a fetus will survive. Instead, McKillip’s measure seeks to ban most abortions once fetuses can feel pain, a possibility that McKillip said starts 20 weeks after conception though many medical researchers reject that claim or say the evidence is unclear.

“There’s kids that have been born at 19 weeks, so she needs to do her research into what viability means,” McKillip told the newspaper.

The candidates have other differences on abortion. McKillip said he opposes stem cell research and believes abortion should be illegal for women who are the victims of rape or incest. Quick said she does not object to stem cell research and believes abortion should be available to rape and incest victims.


Information from: Athens Banner-Herald, http://www.onlineathens.com


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