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Abortion and the Candidates

State Rep. Doug McKillip and Regina Quick aren’t the only Athens candidates arguing about abortion.

State Rep. Keith Heard, D-Athens, and Democratic primary challenger Spencer Frye exchanged blows on the hot-button issue, among several of Heard’s other votes, at a Federation of Neighborhoods forum Monday night.

Frye told more than 100 voters at the forum that Heard favored restricting abortion, shortening early voting and raising Georgia Power rates – positions Frye described as Republican.

“These are things we don’t want as Democrats, and this man behind me (Heard) has voted for every one of those things,” said Frye, the executive director of Athens Area Habitat for Humanity and a candidate for mayor in 2010.

The legislature overwhelmingly passed the Woman’s Right to Know Act in 2005, with about half of Democrats joining Republicans. The law established a 24-hour waiting period for abortions and requires doctors to talk to women about the medical risks and alternatives, such as adoption.

“It doesn’t do any harm,” Heard said. “It doesn’t stop any procedures or anything.”

The panel of five candidates also faced questions about McKillip’s “fetal pain” bill, which restricts abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“I’m against it,” Frye said. “I’m no doctor. I’m no woman. Those are the people I think we should be listening to on this issue.”

McKillip, R-Athens, skipped the forum because it was his son’s birthday, according to a statement read by moderator David Hamilton.

Chris Perlera, a Republican who’s also seeking Heard’s northern and eastern Clarke County House seat, said McKillip’s bill is just part of his effort to establish his conservative bona fides after his 2010 party switch.

“We have somebody, again, with a showboating bill, a sentiment that’s been expressed here over and over again, trying to make a name for himself,” Perlera said.

Government shouldn’t be involved in medical decisions, said Carter Kessler, a libertarian Republican running against the more mainstream Perlera. Those are between doctors and their patients, he said.

Quick, McKillip’s opponent in the July 31 GOP primary, favors outlawing most abortions after 23 weeks, a standard based on whether a fetus can survive outside the womb. She called the new abortion a law a divisive red herring.

“Any time they try to get you mad at each other over social issues, you better grab your wallet,” Quick said.