ATLANTA — Georgia Right to Life held its first weekly “mini-rally” Tuesday to campaign for a proposed state constitutional amendment that could ultimately challenge abortion rights.
The prayer meeting and news conference on the Capitol grounds drew only a couple dozen people, compared to almost 5,000 who showed up for the annual rally last week that featured Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
But the group is banking on the grass-roots tactics of urging Human Life Amendment supporters to come to the Capitol and to speak to their legislators personally, said Mike Griffin, legislative director for Georgia Right to Life.
“It’s the most effective means of lobbying,” Mr. Griffin said about legislators, “for their own constituents to come see them.”
The legislation’s author, Rep. Martin Scott, R-Rossville, wasn’t at Tuesday’s event but said he supports the organization’s efforts.
“They’re doing this on their own to take ownership (of the proposed amendment) as citizens,” he said. The proposed amendment, which would define life as beginning at fertilization and states the right to life is “paramount,” now sits in committee. It would need a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers to get on a ballot and a majority of voters for approval.
Opponents of the measure claim the amendment would end legal abortion and could even limit birth control options.
Committee hearings on the legislation are set for Feb. 18 and 20, Rep. Scott said.
To rally amendment supporters Tuesday, Catherine Davis, legislative director of Politically Active Christians, spoke about how abortion affects the black community disproportionately. Although almost 30 percent of Georgians are black, 58 percent of the women who have abortions in the state are black, according to Georgia Right to Life.
“We were deceived to believe abortion is nothing more than getting rid of a blob of tissue,” said Ms. Davis, who is black. “This is the 20th century lynching grounds of the black community.”
Planned Parenthood of Georgia spokeswoman Leola Reis said, “We adamantly reject those kinds of racist accusations.”
She said that many issues disproportionately affect minority women, such as poverty and lack of access to health care. And she said Planned Parenthood works with all clients on many aspects of women’s health and not just abortion.
“We invite Georgia Right to Life to work on the source of the issues, to ensure all women get access to health care,” Ms. Reis said.
Georgia Right to Life will hold the rallies each Tuesday during the legislative session, Mr. Griffin said.
Planned Parenthood won’t have specific events to protest the proposed amendment, Ms. Reis said.
But, “We’re definitely watching this legislation,” she said. “Our concern is it won’t do anything to prevent unintended pregnancies.”