An audio recording of a 2001 Georgia house floor debate is casting further doubt on the testimony of Michael Boggs, a controversial anti-choice judicial nominee who faced some highly skeptical questions from U.S. Senators earlier this month on an anti-choice vote he made as a Georgia state legislator.
The Huffington Post published a recording Tuesday of floor debate over that vote, for which Boggs was present, and in which his colleagues bring up the sorts of concerns that Boggs testified he had been unaware of at the time during his Senate confirmation hearing.
The vote in question was for an amendment that would have required doctors to publicize how many abortions they have performed. Legislators and news commentators at the time, as the Huffington Post documents, feared the amendment would lead to anti-choice violence against doctors. The state senate had already rejected the amendment for that reason.
However, Boggs claimed during his confirmation hearing that while he regrets the vote in hindsight, at the time he hadn’t had time to consider the floor amendment and was unaware of any controversy about the murder of abortion doctors:
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D-MN): There have been doctors murdered for this. And yet you say that you were a state legislator then, and that you weren’t aware of that at all?
MICHAEL BOGGS: Senator, respectully, I was not. That was not my amendment. …
FRANKEN: You were a state legislator at the time but weren’t aware of any of the public safety issues that were involved around this whole issue?
BOGGS: I wasn’t, and I think that’s probably attributable to the fact that this came as a floor amendment, not a bill, not something I had an opportunity to study or speak to other legislators about, it happened on the floor—
FRANKEN: So this was simply off your radar, all this news around the threats to doctors and bombings of clinics, and those kinds of things. How old were you at the time?
FRANKEN: Thirty-seven years old. A state legislator. Were not aware of any of that?
BOGGS: No sir.
But the audio recording of the Georgia floor debate shows state Rep. Larry Walker (D-Perry) raising strong objections on that subject. “Everybody in the Senate agreed that this was bad because it’s probably going to cause some people to be harmed, to be honest with you. Maybe killed,” Walker said. “Have you heard about these clinics being bombed and these people being shot? If the word goes out … this very well could cause that.”
Moreover, numerous op-eds in both national papers like the New York Times and Boggs’ home state paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, highlighted the issue and noted that at least five abortion-providing doctors had been murdered in the previous six years.
Boggs already faces heavy opposition from Democratic leadership and several Senate Judiciary Committee members. The committee could hold a confirmation vote as early as next week.