U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff called on Georgia lawmakers to lift abortion restrictions Tuesday during a swing through Athens to tour University of Georgia agricultural facilities.
“The court, through its decision, has stripped women of autonomy in the most personal health decisions,” Ossoff said when asked about last week’s Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson overturning the 1972 Roe v. Wade decision enshrining the right to abortion.
Ossoff said he believes the Dobbs decision also threatens other precedents protecting contraception, interracial marriage and same-sex marriage.
“This is a decision with vast implications that I believe puts women’s lives at risk here in Georgia and across the country,” he said.
Ossoff called on Congress and state legislatures to re-establish the privacy rights that were the bedrock of Roe.
“I will continue to work in the Senate to establish access to reproductive health-care services,” he said. “I call upon Georgia’s state legislature and the governor to reconsider the draconian six-week abortion ban that has been enacted here in Georgia, and on the Georgia state legislature to establish strong standards of privacy for women and health care.”
However, the odds of reinstating Roe legislatively at the federal level appear slim. It would require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, and Democrats only have 50 votes in the Senate. Two Democratic senators—Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona—have steadfastly refused to reform the filibuster since Ossoff’s election helped Democrats retake the chamber in 2021. And just three Republican senators—Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia—identify themselves as pro-abortion rights.
On the state level, in the wake of Dobbs Attorney General Chris Carr has asked a federal appeals court to reinstate the 2019 “heartbeat bill” that was previously declared unconstitutional. Anti-abortion activists are also pressuring Gov. Brian Kemp and Republican state legislators to call a special session to ban abortion entirely.
While abortion rights are the issue of the day, the purpose of Ossoff’s trip was to meet with UGA agricultural researchers. “It’s a value to farmers and to the whole country,” he said of UGA’s agriculture programs.
Ossoff announced that he will seek funding for a UGA poultry science partnership with historically Black Fort Valley State University near Macon, the UGA Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Poultry Research Center in Athens.
“This is part of a broader push to support agriculture through appropriations, as well as the farm bill, which we will take up in Congress next year,” he said.
Ossoff also recently met with Tifton-area farmers and said he is pressuring India to reduce its high tariffs on pecans, one of Georgia’s largest crops.
According to his office, Ossoff wants to secure $7.3 million for the UGA-Fort Valley partnership to train new poultry scientists, $3.1 million for new diagnostic equipment at the veterinary lab and $15.3 million for repairs and maintenance at two Athens USDA facilities.
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