Bruce Williamson

Rep. Bruce Williamson, R-Monroe, delivers remarks at the lectern of the state House while House Speaker David Ralston looks on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Atlanta.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a highly controversial abortion bill into law earlier this month.

House Bill 481, more commonly known “heartbeat” bill, prohibits abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is around the sixth week of pregnancy. Now it is called the Living Infants Fairness and Equality, or LIFE, Act since it has been signed into law.

Bruce Williamson of Monroe is the Republican state representative of District 115, and he voted to pass HB 481.

“Given my beliefs and values … I tell people ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ well you can’t have pursuit of happiness if you don’t have life. I stand up for life,” Wil­liamson said.

Georgia is not the only state to have passed a law restricting the length of time available for a woman to get an abortion. Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Utah all have passed similar legislation. Five out of the eight states have limited the time allotted for an abortion within the first trimester, while Alabama has prohibited abortion and made it a Class A felony.

Some people are arguing the states that are passing legislation are challenging the Roe v. Wade decision of permitting abortion until fetus reaches viability around 24 to 28 weeks. Williamson does not think the courts will get involved because of this 1973 decision.

“At the time [of Roe v. Wade], they didn’t have the diagnostic tools … and were less informed. Science and technology has gotten better and better since then,” Williamson said.

Prior to the “heartbeat” bill, Georgia allowed abortions up to the 20th week. Back in 2012, the fetal pain bill stated that, according to scientific evidence, an unborn child has the structures to feel the pain of an abortion by the 20th week. Anesthesia was administrated to the unborn child prior to abortion.

“A baby in utero feels pain at 20 weeks. … Why would you inflict pain on a defenseless life?” Williamson said.

Since the bill has been signed into law, people and businesses are refusing to stay quiet. People are protesting at the state Capitol and across the state. Businesses, like the film industry, have begun boycotting the state and refuse to work there.

“It’s easy to say you’re not going to do something that you haven’t done before. … I don’t think [the boycotts] are going go have a significant impact on the economy,” Williamson said.

Contrary to warnings, Williamson has not experienced many protests. He claims to not have seen protests exceeding more than 100 protesters. He has not received any phone calls or emails protesting, but rather he has received praise for voting for the legislation.

The LIFE Act goes into effect in the beginning of 2020. This will mark the beginning of the six-week time limit on abortions.

As for the women of the state, there are clinics, such as the Women’s Pregnancy Resource Center of Walton, available to educate and help families facing unexpected pregnancies.


University of Georgia student Grace Townsend is a correspondent for The Walton Tribune. She is a 2018 graduate of North Oconee High School.

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