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Georgia on my mind

A Southern state’s April travails and triumphs signal a stormy start to spring

Georgia on my mind

Milano protests Georgia’s heartbeat bill at the state Capitol. (John Bazemore/AP)

Like many spots in the South, springtime in Georgia sings: The azaleas bloom, the dogwoods burst, and the acres of sprawling peach orchards stand hopeful against the threat of a late-spring freeze.

But as springtime unfurled in early April, a few other threats stalked the Peach State. They didn’t come from the cast of faux zombies filming The Walking Dead in the small town of Senoia, Ga., but they did come from another set of performers.

Television star and activist Alyssa Milano marshaled at least 50 fellow actors to threaten an acting boycott of productions filmed in Georgia. The trigger point: if Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation outlawing abortion after an unborn baby’s heartbeat could be detected.

Milano posted the demand letter to Georgia Republicans: “We can’t imagine being elected officials who had to say to their constituents, ‘I enacted a law that was so evil, it chased billions of dollars out of our state’s economy.’ It’s not the most effective campaign slogan, but rest assured, we’ll make it yours should it come to pass.”

Two days later, the Georgia House passed the bill. The pro-life governor has until May 12 to sign the bill into law, and Kemp told The Atlanta-Journal Constitution he can’t govern based on a fear of “what someone in Hollywood thinks about me.”

Not everyone in the film business thinks poorly of protecting the unborn: Ashley Bratcher, a Georgia resident and star of the newly released film Unplanned, penned a response to Milano: “In Georgia, we care just as much about being pro-life as being pro-film.”

In the first two weeks of April, moviegoers across the United States showed they were pro-film when it came to Unplanned—a movie depicting Abby Johnson’s unexpected transformation from an abortion worker to a pro-life advocate.

Despite an advertising blackout by television networks like the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime, the movie hauled in some $9.3 million from domestic audiences in its opening week. That was fourth place nationwide, trailing only behind Dumbo, Us, and Captain Marvel

With the abortion rate at its lowest since Roe v. Wade, it’s a marvel that Democratic politicians don’t rethink their unyielding devotion to being a monolithic pro-abortion party. 

Former Democratic President Jimmy Carter—a Georgia native—has said he thinks Democrats should abandon their staunch pro-abortion plank.

In early April, John Fea, an author and a history professor at Messiah College, wrote that he thinks there are plenty of pro-life Democrats who agree with Carter. But Fea thinks they won’t speak out because—among other reasons—they don’t want to be ostracized by the party or perceived as opposing women’s rights.

At least one prominent Democrat has another set of worries related to the treatment of women: Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared on the verge of announcing a presidential bid when a former Nevada legislator complained he had “inhaled” her hair and kissed the back of her head during a 2014 presidential campaign appearance.

Biden, a politician well known for openly showing physical affection, on April 3 denied any inappropriate intentions—or even remembering the incident—but he promised to be more careful in the future. (I remember a 2008 presidential campaign stop when Biden flung his arm around me before realizing I was a journalist. I sensed nothing awry about it, but offering women personal space isn’t a bad idea.)

Still, as Biden seeks to reassure voters of his innocence, he may find it difficult to meet the standards he helped set.

KC Johnson, a history professor at Brooklyn College, wrote a column noting that Biden had helped champion Obama-era policy undercutting due process for students accused of sexual assault on college campuses. The Title IX changes weakened basic standards like the presumption of innocence and the right to cross-examine an accuser.

When current Education Secretary Betsy DeVos moved to restore basic protections in 2017, Biden called those who agreed with her “culturally Neanderthals.” In his column, Johnson noted this leaves Biden in the position of “demanding that he receive the benefit of the doubt that he denied to others.”

As Democrats watched their field of presidential hopefuls expand despite Biden’s troubles, President Donald Trump watched his Cabinet shrink: On April 7, Kirstjen Nielsen resigned her post as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

The move came as Trump continued to grapple with an influx of migrants seeking to cross the U.S. border.

The president appeared to back off his threats to close the southern border, as secure-border allies like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, warned that closing it would be disastrous for U.S. trade with Mexico: “The answer is not to punish those who are crossing the border legally.”

Farther south, the border remained closed between Venezuela and Colombia in the heavily trafficked border town of Cúcuta. Three months after legislator Juan Guaidó took the oath of presidency, Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro clung to power.

Meanwhile, Venezuelans continued to stagger under the near-daily loss of electrical power in major cities, as the nation’s neglected grid failed. Maduro announced electricity rationing while workers labored to make repairs—a process one official estimated could take at least a year to complete.

Venezuelans are accustomed to rations—grocery shelves are largely barren—but losing electricity heightens the misery. It’s impossible to know how long the political standoff will continue, but until then, South America’s once-richest nation continues its alarming freefall.

Whatever Maduro’s plans, failing to protect his citizens’ freedoms by pursuing an intensely self-serving form of socialism made the collapse inevitable. It’s another extreme example of how some of the worst-laid plans can bring the worst results.

Still, springtime brings the much-needed reminder that a sovereign God can turn man’s worst plans into man’s greatest good. The resurrection of Christ that Christians celebrate every Sunday—and especially at Easter—points back to a cross that sinful men intended to be the end of the Savior they refused to recognize.

But in the most glorious way possible, what man intended for evil, God meant for good.

Jamie Dean

Jamie Dean

Jamie is national editor of WORLD Magazine. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and previously worked for the Charlotte World. Jamie has covered politics, disasters, religion, and more for WORLD. She resides in Charlotte, N.C. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.


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  • MamaC
    Posted: Thu, 04/11/2019 03:44 pm

    Excellent article! Awesome ending!

  • Laneygirl's picture
    Posted: Thu, 04/11/2019 05:40 pm

    I still can't get past the part where Alyssa Milano calls a law protecting unborn babies

    "So Evil"


  • VISTA48
    Posted: Thu, 04/11/2019 07:06 pm

    Given the costs of movie-making in California, I think Hollywood needs Georgia more than Georgia needs Hollywood. We have heard the "I'm leaving the US" threats ad nauseum from these folks, but still they remain. Fifty self-interested actors do not a movement make.