Georgia lawmakers eye controversial abortion proposal - CBS46 News

Georgia lawmakers eye controversial abortion proposal

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

It started as a routine proposal on health benefits for a narrow band of state employees, but it is ending up as a bitter fight over abortion.

Georgia House lawmakers are looking at a controversial proposal to ban state employees' health insurance plans from covering abortions.

That could affect hundreds of thousands of women who work for state agencies.

The move came as a surprise in a legislative session in which abortion had not been an issue.

It seemed as if reproductive rights would not come up for debate this year.

Then, on day 38 of the 40-day legislative session, a senator tacked the controversial amendment to block state employees' health insurance plans from covering abortions onto an unrelated House bill on health benefits for workers with the Georgia World Congress Center.

The amendment caught reproductive rights advocates off guard.

"No public  hearings and no public input. This is a huge surprise," said Nikema Williams, with Planned Parenthood Southeast.

Williams said the bill would restrict the reproductive rights of hundreds of thousands women who work for the state.

"Women's rights to make personal medical decisions should be left to them, their doctors and their faith and nothing to do with this government intrusion happening today," Williams said.

State Sen. Mike Crane, a Republican, added the measure onto House Bill 246.

Crane said his proposal would protect taxpayers who find abortion immoral.

"It's going to save the taxpayers' money and let people who choose to have abortions pay for it themselves," said Crane, who argued that amendment would not interfere with women's reproductive rights.

"I do not think so at all," Crane said.

State Sen. Nan Orrock, a Democrat, said the provision could put women, who are making difficult choices about their health and values, at risk.

"Your daughter could be the victim of a rape and with a pregnancy ensuing and you would not be able to cover that with your state employee health plan," Orrock said.

State Rep. Rich Golick, who sponsored the original un-amended bill, would not comment.

Gov. Nathan Deal supports the abortion amendment.

Lawmakers have until Thursday to approve the proposal or it will die.

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