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Abortion foes renew legislative push for ban

ATLANTA - Abortion opponents came to the Capitol Tuesday with a new weapon in a fight they have waged for years: affidavits from women who say they've suffered irreparable harm from having the procedure.

"Abortion hurts women physically and psychologically,'' Linda Schlueter, vice president of The Justice Foundation, a Texas-based anti-abortion group, testified during an informal hearing on a House bill outlawing abortion. "That is the reality these women are

speaking.''

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Bobby Franklin, R-Marietta, virtually bans abortion in Georgia.

Its lone exception would be in cases involving the death of an unborn child that occurs after a doctor makes a "medically justified'' effort to save the lives of both the mother and fetus.

Since taking complete control of the General Assembly two years ago, Republicans have pushed through legislation requiring a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion.

Lawmakers also have debated a bill mandating that doctors give women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn baby before deciding whether to have the procedure.

But the legislature has stopped short of attempting to reverse the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion on demand.

Franklin, a longtime abortion foe, has introduced abortion bans for years without success.

But on Tuesday, he expressed optimism that 2007 will be different.

"We expect great things to happen with this bill this year,'' he said.

"I know this is not the most popular thing to do,'' added Rep. Melvin Everson, R-Snellville, a cosponsor of Franklin's bill. "It's the right thing to do.''

The Georgia Christian Coalition has put the abortion issue at the top of its legislative priorities for the 2007 session.

But Dionne Vann, interim executive director of NARAL-Pro Choice Georgia, said an outright ban on abortion isn't any more likely to pass in Georgia this year than in the past.

"We don't feel it represents the majority of the people of Georgia's opinions on abortion, so it's not going to go anywhere,'' she said.

During Tuesday's hearing, Franklin accepted sworn affidavits from about 2,000 women from around the country who say their lives have been harmed by undergoing abortions.

House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, hasn't taken a position on Franklin's bill.

Richardson spokeswoman Clelia Davis said he will allow its fate to be decided through the normal committee process.