Gudger addresses abortion bill at Republican Women meeting

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Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman is seen in Cullman Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at the monthly Cullman County Republican Women meeting. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman County Republican Women Tuesday evening welcomed Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman as the featured speaker at its monthly meeting. Gudger’s remarks focused on the feedback after the passing of the Human Life Protection Act (HB 314) in May, his experience with his first session and what he’s learned so far.

He addressed the crowd, “It’s nice to be back, get my feet back under me, here in Cullman, Alabama, and get to see faces that I’m familiar with.”

HB 314, known informally as the “abortion bill,” would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years, or life in prison, for the provider. The only exception in the bill would be if a woman’s health is at serious risk. No exceptions would be made in the case of rape or incest.

Defending his “yes” vote on HB 314, Gudger said, “In the end, when you stand up for what you believe in, you dig your feet in, and you say ‘I’m not leaving my position, because I believe it’s right,’ whether you agree with my position or not, that’s what I did and I think that everyone that’s from Cullman, Alabama or loves Cullman, Alabama, that’s the way that I was raised is you dig in and you do what’s right, and don’t apologize for it. And I haven’t.”

Gudger said he and his family have received death threats.

“Just so you’ll know, we’ve received death threats, people have called my son directly, direct messaged him, my 15-year-old son about some very vulgar and nasty things that happened through this abortion bill. My wife has been directly affected and has been threatened at our house. We had to get a new security alarm, and we even got another dog, just to be on the safe side.”

He thanked everyone in attendance for their support, saying, “Thank you for supporting me. The best thing about this whole time in the first session, by the way, OK? And I know I’m going to say something I shouldn’t even bring up, but I’m going to bring up the gas tax (the 10-cent per gallon over three years tax increase passed by the Alabama Legislature in March) for one thing. Half of you probably hated the gas tax, half of you were OK with it, but I’m bringing it up for a reason, OK? When we passed that gas tax, I heard from just about every one of you in this room, but we went through that process and I got to abortion, and the best thing about Cullman people, oh my gosh, is this, is when everybody from outside this district in Cullman County started messing with me, y’all were like ‘We can mess with him, but by golly you can’t,’ you know? And I’m fine with that, but y’all had my back, and I appreciate that, that means the world to me that y’all would stand up for me when, honestly, I was pretty much defenseless. And I couldn’t do anything, that I couldn’t post anything on social media or they would’ve attacked me.”

Gudger continued, “But y’all stood up for me; you didn’t stay silent, and I appreciate that. While we’re talking, thank you from the bottom of my heart, and my family’s heart, for what you did for my family, by speaking and not being silent.”

Gudger spoke about how social media affects his job, balancing business and politics, and what the biggest surprise is, sharing, “This is odd, but the biggest surprise from my first session looking back on it was a lot of the media, at the state-level, not our local media, but at the state-level, there were bills that were introduced that were really good bills, alright? And they made sense, but just because one particular news group or one other news group would put out, ‘We don’t like this bill,’ but they wouldn’t say it directly. They would write it in such a way that made the purpose of the bill get so far skewed off of its original foundation, that it made no sense whatsoever. So, I’m in Montgomery, and all of you are reading a paper or online and you’re saying, ‘This doesn’t make any sense, why is this Legislature that we just elected voting for this?’ Well trust me, there (are) a lot of things that are happening, that are good bills that, in the end, people will not pass because of the political side of what they read in the media.

“I’m thankful to be where I am, I’m honored to work for you, and I will do everything I can to make sure that we make Cullman as proud as possible for the Cullman delegation and everything we move forward in. I want to say thank you for allowing me to be here.”

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Maggie Darnell

maggie@cullmantribune.com