Surprise anti-abortion measure passes Senate

Bill related to health benefits for state employees is ambush-amended by Sen. Judson Hill

Minutes ago, Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, stepped out of left field to add an anti-abortion amendment to a routine bill to allow the Georgia World Congress Center to offer a flexible benefit plan to its employees.

Hill’s proposal would prohibit insurance coverage for abortion services for all state employees, no matter the reason.

Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, immediately took the well to remind her fellow senators that the last lawmaker to propose an anti-abortion bill—Rep. Doug McKillip, R-Athens, although his name went unspoken—lost re-election in 2012…to a woman. Orrock also referenced the several lost U.S. Senate races and the national GOP’s terrible polling numbers—partly the result of a position on abortion that, she said, is out of step with mainstream opinion.

“Your colleague has not done you a favor by bringing this amendment,” Orrock concluded. “This is no way to undertake a radical policy change that would affect untold numbers of women across Georgia.”

A flurry of secondary amendments followed from both sides of the aisle, even from Hill himself, that all served to add an exemption for the life of the mother. When the first of them was passed, the others were ruled superfluous and scrapped.

As I write this, Hill’s amendment passes 34-17, followed by the newly amended bill, which also passes, 34-14.

So, as of 3:40 p.m. Monday, with two days left to go in this legislative session, the Senate has just sent a poison-pill anti-abortion bill back to the House to swallow. We’ll be curious to see what happens next.