Law-making: A Lot Like Sausage-Making

Georgia Right to Life (GRTL) operates through three primary avenues: Education, Legislation, and Political Action. Most people describe this as the “three-legged stool” of GRTL but, in reality, these three areas make up the components of GRTL’s model for social and cultural change.

The process begins with education to change hearts and minds throughout our communities, leads to political action as Georgians realize their duty to defend life and liberty through elected office, and results in legislation that protects the sanctity of human life with no exceptions.

This approach to social and cultural change is how GRTL endeavors to accomplish our mission statement: “To engage in actions that will restore respect and effective legal protection for all innocent human beings from earliest biological beginning until natural death.”

You often read about education and how GRTL is continually speaking in the community and bringing our internationally renowned pro-life training program, Pillars of Personhood, to college campuses. You read about political action through the endorsements made by the GRTL PAC. And sometimes you’ll read about the RESULT of legislation passed in Georgia, but only after the fact and only around Georgia’s 40-day legislative session from January through March. It’s time for that to change.

It’s been said that laws are like sausage; it’s best not seeing how it gets made. But now that I am both the Director of Education AND Legislation, I want to take an opportunity to inform you about two critical pieces of legislation that GRTL is pursuing in 2016 and why this legislation is so important. Let’s take a look inside this sausage-making, shall we?

The Personhood Amendment, sponsored by Rep. Brad Raffensperger

The Personhood Amendment is the crown jewel of the pro-life movement. The ultimate political goal of virtually every pro-life organization is to amend the United States Constitution to protect all innocent human life. GRTL took this concept down to the state level almost a decade ago and have been introducing it in the Georgia General Assembly every session since.

The Personhood Amendment states simply that, “This state shall recognize the paramount right to life of all human beings as persons at any stage of development.” While brief, it then grants significant authority to the state to pass pro-life legislation and interpret court cases and legislative language through the lens of human personhood rather than the lens of Roe v. Wade.

This legislation would require support from two-thirds of both the State House and State Senate and then would need to be ratified by voters on the next General Election ballot, which will be November of 2016. We currently don’t think we have enough support in the House to pass the Amendment, but we will work diligently to see it passed in 2016.

Termination of Parental Rights of Rapists and Sex Traffickers, sponsored by Rep. Brad Raffensperger (HB 713)

Rape, incest and preying on victims of sex traffickers are horrible crimes. This law will empower victims of sexual assault to deny parental rights to their assailants. It will also act as a deterrent to abortion since victims won’t face the threat of ongoing dealings with the perpetrator.

GRTL embraces measures that advance the concept of Personhood, which promotes the idea that all innocent human life—at every stage of development—deserves protection. It’s critical to ensure we don’t place less value on a child conceived as a result of sexual abuse.

An estimated 25,000 sexual assault-related pregnancies occur every year in the United States. In over 70 percent of those cases, the women carry the child to term.

The proposal is a reflection of the federal Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, which went into effect last June. The law provides federal financial assistance to states to pass similar laws. Currently 30 states have similar laws to this measure.

Another critical piece of GRTL's legislative efforts is additional personnel at the Capitol. Serving alongside me will be Johnny Crist, former Senior Pastor of Atlanta Vineyard church and now Mayor of the city of Lilburn for two terms. Johnny has more than a decade of experience in consensus building, leadership, and government affairs at the local level. His knowledge and expertise will make a huge difference in our capacity for success in 2016.

The final critical piece of GRTL's legislative efforts is YOU. Without you, the pro-life grassroots, GRTL can’t accomplish anything – because all politics is local.

Be sure to watch for the weekly Georgia Pro-Life Legislative Update from Johnny and me starting the week of January 11th and running through mid-to-late March when the legislative session is expected to end. This will keep you updated on the latest information about pro-life legislation under the Gold Dome. Also be sure to read and share all GRTL's  legislative action alerts so that you can play an active part in passing pro-life legislation in Georgia and promoting personhood – the paramount right to life.

by Joshua Edmonds
Director of Education and Legislation
Instructor for the GRTL Pillars of Personhood Training Seminar
Published clinical/social psychology researcher