VIDEO: McKillip and Quick Debate Georgia's 'Fetal Pain' Abortion Law
The two Republican candidates seeking the Georgia House District 117 seat disagree about time tables used to determine fetus viability.
State Rep. Doug McKillip and Athens attorney Regina Quick, candidates for the newly-created Georgia House District 117, have differences of opinion when it comes to when a fetus should be considered viable for the purposes of setting a limit on legal, elective abortions in the state.
At Thursday's candidates forum, held in the auditorium of North Oconee High School and sponsored by the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce, Quick said she is personally against abortion, but challenged HB 954, known as the "Fetal Pain" Bill, which effectively reduced the state's ban on elective abortion by about six weeks to 20. It was authored and carried by McKillip during the most recent legislative session.
Quick called it "a poor piece of legislation," saying medical experts she's consulted with believe the new law neglects an important three weeks.
"Viability is the constitutional standard, and my obstetrician resources tell me that that's generally accepted to be 23 weeks, so that, to me, is the constitutionally-protected standard," she said.
McKillip, endorsed by Georgia Right to Life, said viability is a "horrible" constitutional standard that changes based on a number of factors such as a race, sex, and a patient's proximity to a hospital.
"We said there is good medical evidence that a fetus, that a baby, at 20 weeks past life -- that's 22 weeks the way most people think about it -- but 20 weeks past conception can feel and experience pain in the womb," he said. "They are admitted anesthesia when they have surgical procedures. They seek to avoid negative stimuli, they can feel pain. And that is the point at which, in Georgia, we are not going to let barbaric, late-term abortions occur, and there is a clear difference between me and my opponent."
He said the bill is now being used nationwide as the template for pro-life legislation and the pro-life movement.
Watch the included video for more of the exchange.
"A body of work between the candidates"
Quick lost a bid to McKillip, then a Democrat, in the 2006 General Election. She distinguished herself from McKillip at Thursday's forum by saying through her service as an executive member of the Athens-Clarke County Republican party, she's stood for lower taxes, smaller government, personal responsibility and greater government accountability all along, while her opponent has wavered in his beliefs.
"There is a body of work between the candidates that I ask all of you to get yourself educated and talk to folks about it," she said. "My opponent has a legislative body of work that includes trying to bring the Earned Income Tax Credit to Georgia, tyring to raise the minimum wage in Georgia and trying to raise taxes in Georgia. And those are bills he sponsored. So I ask you to take a long, hard look at his big government, because it's showing."
McKillip explained that in 2009, after becoming a saved Christian, he switched to the Republican party because it was more in line with his beliefs. He said he's been fighting for conservative values ever since and stated Quick's commentary was only focused on the first few years of his legislative career.
"I'm not sitting here and saying that I've never been wrong about anything and I've been right from the start," he said. "But what I'm saying is, I'm sincere and I'm honest. I'm unashamed of who I am and what I stand for and what I've become in the last few years."
Illegal immigration - similar but different
When it comes to the hot-button issue of illegal immigration, both said they share a similar view: support of HB 87 -- the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011 which was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law.
However, when it comes to how each would approach the alleged shortage of farm labor in the state's agricultural industry, they expressed different opinions.
"It's a concern that has to be addressed on the federal level," Quick said, "because I don't think the Georgia Legislature should be on in the business of picking winners and losers. You can't start carving out exceptions for one industry over another; the law has to be complied with."
Quick said she hopes state Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black will lobby the federal government "to create a more streamlined, more responsive, more receptive process for Georgia's farmers."
But it's not something the federal government needs to mess with, according to McKillip.
"This is an issue that business can correct on it's own, and certainly the last thing we need is more federal regulation," he said.
Neither personally supports TSPLOST
The candidates also discussed the proposed TSPLOST -- a one-cent regional sales tax for the purpose of funding transportation projects -- a referendum that will be on the July 31 primary ballot. Both said they'll personally be voting against it.
Quick also said she does not support the TSPLOST legislation, but pointed out McKillip voted for it.
McKillip said his support changed as drafts changed.
"What we're dealing with is HB 277, which was dropped in 2009. On HB 332, I voted 'no' on March 25, 2009 when this bill came back over from the Senate Finance Committee," he explained. "In 2010, when it became obvious that it was a local control issue to solve Atlanta regional problems, I voted 'yes.'"
Watch the attached video clip to see and hear more about the issue.