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How Not to Stop Abortion

Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 15:56 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

It’s a sensational headline: “Georgia Lawmaker’s Anti-Abortion Proposal Could Punish Women for Miscarriages,” screams FoxNews.com. The article begins:

A Georgia state representative has reintroduced an anti-abortion bill that would make miscarriages a felony if the mother cannot prove there was no “human involvement.”

The legislation from Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Republican, would make all abortions, described as “prenatal murder,” illegal based on the belief that all life begins at conception. The bill’s definition of “prenatal murder” excludes miscarriages “so long as there is no human involvement whatsoever” in causing them. Anyone convicted would face the death penalty or life behind bars.

For starters, I read the bill, filed as House Bill 1, and I don’t see anything that alludes to requiring a woman to prove there was no human involvement in her miscarriage. That’s a good thing because it is absolutely antithetical to our criminal justice system to require an accused person to prove that a crime hasn’t been committed. Any law that tries to reverse the criminal burden of proof would certainly be unconstitutional.

As for what the proposed law actually does say, I have several problems with it.

First, I am against capital punishment, unequivocally and in all cases. I’m so anti-capital punishment that I thought it was a travesty that Saddam Hussein was executed. While HB 1 doesn’t mention anything about the death penalty, Georgia law provides for execution as punishment for certain crimes. I presume that at least one of the laws referenced in HB 1 addresses such a punishment. Ironically, people who self-identify as pro-life are more likely to oppose the death penalty than those who say they are “pro-choice,” so it’s somewhat incongruous to identify feticide as a capital offense.

Second, almost nothing that happens in life happens with “no human involvement whatsoever,” a phrase that appears in the text of the bill. What if a woman trips on her husband’s shoes and falls down the stairs, suffering injuries that cause a miscarriage? Presumably, the husband would be culpable if he left his shoes in the middle of the floor. What if a pregnant woman miscarries after being injured in a car accident caused by, say, a faulty traffic signal? A mayor or city council member whose decision or vote resulted in reduced funding for road maintenance might be culpable under this statute. Not that I don’t sometimes fantasize about politicians going to prison, but that would be a bit ridiculous.

Third, most women who have abortions do so not as a free choice but because they think they have no choice. The duress is compounded by the fact that abortion providers have a financial incentive to not offer non-lethal alternatives or complete facts about fetal development, so a prospective client can expect not to get any of that. While a small percentage of women who have abortions would do so even under the best of circumstances, it is wrong to punish those whose decision, by no fault of their own and often without their knowledge, is based on coercion or bad information.

All of the above is why this law is a rotten idea. Rep. Bobby Franklin, the bill’s sponsor. ought to feel fortunate that Georgia doesn’t have a law making it a felony to be stupid.

As for the Planned Parenthood spokesperson quoted at the end of the article, she lies outright when she talks about “recent attacks on publicly funded contraceptive programs.” She knows that the “attacks” to which she refers are a result of a sting operation conducted against Planned Parenthood in which employees helped who they thought were pimps of child prostitutes circumvent the law to get abortions for the girls. It has long been the modus operandi of abortion proponents who can’t defend the industry to instead pretend that the issue is contraception, while everyone with a brain wave knows it’s not. If they were smart (a presumption in which I have no confidence), they would let the bad Georgia bill be the issue rather than making up other stuff.

Categories: law & justice, politics
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