THE BARRY Loudermilk that Floyd Countians helped to send to the Georgia Senate is not the Barry Loudermilk today representing them and serving them so poorly.
The Loudermilk who ran, and was endorsed by this newspaper, did so on a strong record in the Georgia House where he promoted the free-enterprise system and defended personal freedoms against the growing encroachments of “the nanny state.”
It was probably expected by most voters, in a time when the state has acute economic, budgetary and service-delivery problems, that he would apply his head for business and his belief in “the American way” of individual resourcefulness to those conditions and help right the ship of state.
It certainly was no secret that Loudermilk, R-Cassville, is strongly pro-life, as are many in this region with varying intensity and lots of ifs, buts and except-fors that the senator seems not to share. It is similarly no secret that this newspaper has long been pro-choice, favors full equal rights for everybody, supports civil unions conferring complete familial rights, advocates the legalization (and taxation) of marijuana and any number of other things that probably cause Loudermilk’s trademark close-cropped hair to curl.
SO WHAT? Those things are not about managing public affairs and monies; they are about people being allowed to live their individual lives, make their own choices with the least amount of political interference or “guidance.” Loudermilk often talks that talk himself ... but he clearly does not walk that walk.
Despite his fondness for flag-waving and use of the nebulous code term “family values,” it was not expected — and certainly wasn’t the theme of his campaign — that he would focus on two things: opposing the federal government on about everything in the name of state’s rights and stopping abortion.
Frankly, the federal government is not all that bad ... when comparing it to the current state government. And if Loudermilk doesn’t want an abortion performed on himself ... fine, despite the scientific novelty such would involve. If he wants to control another person’s body ... not so fine.
For whatever reasons, Loudermilk has now decided to become the poster boy of the right-to-life movement to the exclusion of attempting to serve his constituents by, let’s say, trying to stop Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital from being closed, kicking the pests of the Orkin empire out of the right-of-way for the U.S. 411 Connector, keeping the HOPE scholarships intact, getting the state and its unfunded mandates out of our lives and so forth.
MAYBE HE already envisions a future run for higher office and needs what he believes is a statewide base of support and funding; perhaps he has been stricken with a missionary zeal better applied in a religious setting. Whatever it is, he has torn off on a tack that has largely left the people of his Floyd/Bartow/Gordon district without a voice on everything that actually matters in the here and now.
To this point, Loudermilk has, with publicity trumpets blaring, offered a constitutional amendment that would confer personhood with full rights from conception forward and thus make both abortion and stem-cell research homicide; attempted to limit abortions only to within hospitals (almost all are done in specialized clinics); sought to void any abortion coverage in health-insurance policies; and is trying to permit pretty near anyone to sue a doctor for damages if he performs the procedure without following every nitpicking regulation the state might be able to think up.
The first three aren’t going anywhere in this session. The fourth, SB 210, actually the most ludicrous and insulting, passed the Senate, 36-16, and now depends on the saner heads in the House to stop.
LOUDERMILK must be a good buddy of the tin-pot dictators now running the Senate in the same manner that former Speaker Glenn Richardson once ran the House when it was the senators alone who retained their sanity. Under the Gold Dome, lunacy resulting from an overdose of power is apparently contagious. He got this through the Rules Committee without public hearings or examination by the Judiciary Committee in which its huge failings would have been detected. That is pretty much unheard of.
First of all, it is worth noting that this measure would allow damage lawsuits for the “full value of the life of an unborn child” by any interested party even if all consent forms have been signed by the mother. This is more than parents who lost a wanted child because a physician actually botched something up can currently sue for. Some may recall that Loudermilk’s predecessor, Sen. Preston Smith, R-Rome, ill-advisedly and poorly rewrote the malpractice laws and slapped on damage limits that apparently would not apply in this case.
Incredibly — actually, the entire measure is incredible — Loudermilk states that “some party” feeling aggrieved could sue, not just the woman. As Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, correctly but futilely pointed out: “This is the rapists’ bill of rights.”
Heck, an incestuous father could sue as well. So, for that matter, would any pro-life advocacy group be “some party.”
Loudermilk vows to get this corrected but misses the point entirely. This is none of the state government’s business or concern in the first place.
EVERY governmental power claimed has a flip side. If politicians can deny abortion then they similarly can, as China’s government once did, mandate abortion for population control. Our service members today — and Loudermilk was once in those ranks — even today are fighting the Taliban and other Muslim extremists who seek to impose draconian religious beliefs on those who by right (remember all that “endowed by their Creator” stuff?) are free to make their own choices, have or not have children, speak freely or bite their tongues, own guns to protect themselves and so forth.
It is the abuse of rights, not the rights themselves, that can be addressed as a common concern.
That Loudermilk seems not to grasp this is more than disappointing. It is dangerous.
Another preening and posturing politician is the least of all the many things this nation, this state, this county need at the moment.