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Austin Cline

Turning Women's Bodies into Crime Scenes

By March 8, 2011

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My Husband Controls My Uterus
Image © Austin Cline
Original Poster:
Library of Congress

In Georgia, House Republican Bobby Franklin has introduced a bill that would effectively turn women's bodies into crime scenes. Although the language is rather convoluted, the upshot is that miscarriages have to be reported to the authorities. Why, unless it's to give the government a license to investigate a woman's pregnancy -- like perhaps to see exactly how her pregnancy ended and determine if she had an abortion?

After all, this same bill criminalizes abortion which means that unless a woman can prove that the miscarriage was "natural," she could be prosecuted for murder. According to the bill, any "human involvement" in a miscarriage would qualify as "prenatal murder" -- a felony that can be punished with life in prison or the death penalty.

Franklin wants to create a Uterus Police to investigate miscarriages, and requires that any time a miscarriage occurs, whether in a hospital or without medical assistance, it must be reported and a fetal death certificate issued. If the cause of death is unknown, it must be investigated. If the woman can't tell how it happened, than those Uterus Police can ask family members and friends how it happened. Hospitals are required to keep records of anyone who has a spontaneous abortion and report it. Yup, we've been waiting for someone to suggest this--and Franklin has.

Needless to say, there are no exceptions allowed. Not for rape victims. Not for incest victims. Not to save the life and health of the mother (the fetus must get equal care).

Am I pissed?

Damned right I am. And so should you be. Imagine having to justify your miscarriage to a bunch of investigators. You're lying there in your hospital bed, and bunch of strangers, the Uterus Police, come in and start interrogating you on what you did to cause the death of this fetus.

Source: Daily Kos

It's frequently pointed out by pro-choice supporters that if you're going to make abortion illegal, then logically one has to investigate every miscarriage, perhaps every potential miscarriage, and indeed perhaps every menstrual cycle. After all, if the fetus is a human with the full rights and privileges of an adult, then the death or potential death of every fetus has to be investigated just like the death or potential death of every adult is investigated. It would be inconsistent to declare that abortion is murder but not investigate miscarriages.

This is issue brought up by pro-choice activists because it's expected that sensible, sane adults will recognize that even investigating every miscarriage is unreasonable, never mind every potential miscarriage and every menstrual cycle. When the logical conclusion of some position is revealed as absurd, sensible adults take that as a reason to re-examine their original position so that it can be improved.

Unreasonable adults, in contrast, simply go with the absurd conclusions because they care more about ideological consistency than they do about being sensible, sane, or reasonable. What pro-choice activists have treated as a bit satirical is now being offered by Bobby Franklin in Georgia as a serious idea by far-right religious conservatives who have been mistakenly given political power.

I haven't even touched on just how offensive this is to women. A woman who miscarries is frequently in an anguished mental state -- they are upset, sad, angry, and often asking whether it's their fault. Having to report to the authorities and submit to an investigation will only make all that worse. Indeed, I suspect that that may be part of the point because it's keeping with the standard "blame the victim" approach which conservative Christians seem to have towards anything which happens to women.

It will be interesting to see whether Tea Baggers support this. Since a third of all pregnancies end in miscarriages, the financial and administrative burden on local governments will become significant. A lot of work will be involved and a lot of money will be spent just keep records, never mind mounting investigations. Tea Baggers typically present themselves as being primarily concerned with fiscal responsibility and "limited government." If they are sincere about those principles, they will oppose this law. Who really expects them to, though?

Comments
March 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm
(1) Beadknitter says:

I had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy. I was devastated. It wasn’t anything I did wrong. Just happenstance. I can’t imagine going through reporting and an investigation. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t. I’d rather lie than go through something like that. There are times when I wish men could get pregnant just so they’d stop with the stupid.

March 8, 2011 at 2:16 pm
(2) Dean says:

We couldn’t have asked for better ammunition.

March 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm
(3) Borsia says:

Hopefully this attempt will open the eyes of the masses to the danger of letting the religious malignancy get a stronger grip in the US.
I am reminded of the movie Legally Blond where the girl taking law classes asks if a man masturbating shouldn’t be considered guilty of willful abandonment of all those sperm.
I guarantee that if something like this was to be applied to men it would never see the light of day.
I am curious about RU-486 which is legal.

March 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm
(4) Nashka says:

I am a tea Party supporter, What is with this Tea Bagger crap. You lump all tea Party people under one Umbrella. So you are no different than some in the Tea Party, or any other group. Thinking we all take our marching orders from some religious ideoligy. Limited government, limited federal power have nothing to do with religion. Many Tea Party supporters are religious, probably most, but it is not a requirement. Limited Government means staying out of my bedroom and my public schools, parks and buildings. I AM AN ATHEIST, and reject the notion that you can label even atheists as not having the choice to be a tea party supporter, or assuming that i have to follow a certain viewpoint similar to yours.

March 13, 2011 at 8:20 am
(5) Austin Cline says:

I am a tea Party supporter, What is with this Tea Bagger crap.

That’s the name which Tea Baggers originally chose for themselves.

You lump all tea Party people under one Umbrella.

I’ve never made any assertions about all people in any political party.

Limited government, limited federal power have nothing to do with religion.

Which is why Tea Baggers’ support for faith-based legislation demonstrates that their rhetoric about limited government is nothing more than rhetoric.

Limited Government means staying out of my bedroom and my public schools, parks and buildings.

And Tea Baggers’ support for policies that put the government in the bedroom and in the doctors’ offices mean that their rhetoric about limited government is nothing more than rhetoric.

March 12, 2011 at 7:45 pm
(6) ECRaymond says:

This is absolutely unbelievable and an insult to every women who has ever had the misfortune to have a miscarriage. To put a women through this kind of thing is outrageous. They should run Mr. Franklin out of the state on a rail like they did in the old days.

March 13, 2011 at 2:51 pm
(7) Dave Y. says:

@ Nashka, I am very confused here, you say your part of the tea party YET an atheist, exactly how does an atheist align themselves with a party that espouses that the government should help no none at all and that their survial in this world is completely Gods will? this IS the basis of the parties founders beliefs!
And the next question is why should anyone care about the fellings of someone so weak willed that they would align themselves with such scum just to save money on taxes? Please explain how this does not show you hold no value to your right to personal freedoms as long as you may have to pay your taxes in order to keep them, exactly how is this not an completely and totaly moraly bankrupt act?

March 13, 2011 at 2:57 pm
(8) Nashka says:

I agree with much of what the Tea Party stands for, (minus the faith-based views) which have no standing when it involves the constitution. When religion becomes part of the argument, that is when i remove myself. I feel there isn’t any political party that addresses my views completely, though the Tea Party comes closer than any other currently available. The Tea Party wants the Government to stay out of our lives except when it comes to religion, that is where i disagree strongly.

March 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm
(9) Nashka says:

“And Tea Baggers’ support for policies that put the government in the bedroom and in the doctors’ offices mean that their rhetoric about limited government is nothing more than rhetoric.”

I agree, and this is where the Tea Party over steps its position, and where i fall off. But this does not make their other arguments (outside of religion) invalid. I wish they would leave their religious ideology out of it. I feel the other options are worse.

March 13, 2011 at 3:37 pm
(10) Nashka says:

The term “teabagger” emerged after a protester displayed a placard using the words “tea bag” as a verb.[252][253] The label has prompted additional puns by commentators, the protesters themselves, and comedians based on the sexual meaning of the term.
It is routinely used as a derogatory term to refer to conservative protestors.[254] (from wikipedia)

Enjoy reading your blogs and am in total agreement with most of what you say, but Tea Bagger is a derogatory term.

March 13, 2011 at 4:36 pm
(11) Austin Cline says:

Tea Bagger is a derogatory term.

You might want to re-read what you quoted: it’s used as a derogatory term, but is not inherently a derogatory term. You even quoted the part which notes that the protesters themselves have used puns based on it.

It all comes down to whether one is being critical of them or praising them. I’m being critical because regardless of what the intentions of some of the early participants may have been, the movement today is little more than a corporate-owned force for theocratic ideology.

March 13, 2011 at 5:03 pm
(12) nashka says:

Please explain how this does not show you hold no value to your right to personal freedoms as long as you may have to pay your taxes in order to keep them, exactly how is this not an completely and totaly moraly bankrupt act?

You assume i am weak, first mistake.
Personal freedoms? i have to pay a tax for that? sounds silly.
Why do you also assume it is necessary or even fair to pay to a government that uses the money for there own potitical reasons, that i may or may not agree with.

I have dual citizenship,and currently living in a Country that taxes the people at a very minumum and most seem to get by just fine.

March 13, 2011 at 7:54 pm
(13) Austin Cline says:

Please explain how this does not show you hold no value to your right to personal freedoms as long as you may have to pay your taxes in order to keep them, exactly how is this not an completely and totaly moraly bankrupt act?

What? I can’t make any sense out of that. Perhaps if you explained what you are trying to connect it to, I’d have context to understand it.

You assume i am weak, first mistake.

You assume that I assume anything about you.

I have dual citizenship, and currently living in a Country that taxes the people at a very minumum and most seem to get by just fine.

How many is most? How does the country rank in terms of well-being, health, happiness, and freedom when compared to nations like Norway and Sweden where taxes are high?

March 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm
(14) nashka says:

A comment on this topic. Woman should make their own decisions concerning their bodies. Even if it harms themselves. Government, (which consists of other people) should not have a legal right to make that decision for them.

I feel abortion is not a good human moral choice, though it should be the decision of that person soley.
That goes for many other personal choices.

March 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm
(15) Nashka says:

A response to a comment left by Dave Y.

and to answer your question

from wiki
Costa Rica ranks first in the Happy Planet Index and is the “greenest” country in the world.[13]
The Happy Planet Index (HPI) is an index of human well-being and environmental impact that was introduced by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in July 2006. The index is designed to challenge well-established indices of countries’ development, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI), which are seen as not taking sustainability into account. In particular, GDP is seen as inappropriate, as the usual ultimate aim of most people is not to be rich, but to be happy and healthy.[1] Furthermore, it is believed that the notion of sustainable development requires a measure of the environmental costs of pursuing those goals.[2]

In 2007 the Costa Rican government announced plans for Costa Rica to become the first carbon neutral country by 2021.[10][11][12] According to the New Economics Foundation, Costa Rica ranks first in the Happy Planet Index and is the “greenest” country in the world.[13]

March 14, 2011 at 6:42 pm
(16) Nashka says:

I enjoy your site, and would much rather continue reading the comments and prefer not to participate.

Final comment: I am a libertarian i suppose. I feel the Government should have minimal involvement in my life. We are all born free without restrictions. Society/Gov. put restrictions on us. I feel that less is better.
I don’t want to pay for your abortion, and i don’t want you to pay for my root canal. we can pay these things for each other, JUST DON’T force me to.

I also believe in the world without borders, but i guess i am on the wrong planet, or at least on it to early in our species history.

Austin, you look like a pastor in your photo, and i almost zipped past this site assuming it was religious in nature. glad i didn’t. chow

Atheists have a wide range of views, these are a few of mine, and i know they differ from most, That is what freedom is all about.

March 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm
(17) Austin Cline says:

I notice that you don’t address most of the questions or challenges posed to you

The Happy Planet Index (HPI) is an index of human well-being and environmental impact that was introduced by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in July 2006.

How reliable is their work?

The index is designed to challenge well-established indices of countries’ development, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI), which are seen as not taking sustainability into account.

So it was created with an agenda. How accurate and reliable is it, though? The creators admit that it doesn’t measure “happiness.” Does it take into account education, health, social connections, or anything else?

I feel the Government should have minimal involvement in my life.

Like Somalia?

We are all born free without restrictions.

Since when? You are born helpless, ignorant, and dependent. You are only “free” to scream, sleep, and defecate yourself. Every other “freedom” you acquire over time exists solely in the context of social relationships and conventions. Any regulation of those relationships and conventions is, effectively speaking, government.

You are thus demanding to be released from that which creates the very context for your liberty.

Taxes are the same, by the way. The very notion that you “own” your money is a social convention created by, structured by, and defended by the government you object to paying taxes to. Demanding to be released from the context which makes something possible is as incoherent as expecting to give directions without the context of space to use.

Austin, you look like a pastor in your photo, and i almost zipped past this site assuming it was religious in nature. glad i didn’t.

In other words, you tend to judge quickly and superficially?

March 14, 2011 at 10:12 pm
(18) Nashka says:

On the Born Free comment: More about the freedom of the mind, soc/gov indoctrination of the mind, as it relates to religion, and the influences it has on our mind.

you tend to judge quickly and superficially?

A reaction from a past experience in this situation.
You resembled a catholic priest from my past. To have moved on from this reaction and not researched what your site was about, would have been superficial and judgmental, without at the least reading a bit to get the facts.
Fact finding is in my nature, thus a main reason i am an Atheist.

Never said i reject paying taxes, I do not like the tax structure as it is. Prefer a Fair Tax system.

I pay into a Government required pension here in Costa Rica, 9% of my income. Employer pays a percentage also. I am able to withdraw these funds whenever i choose, because it is my pension, and i have. Unlike Social Security, for which i have paid into for more than 25 years, and probably will not see much of what i contributed.

Social Security resembles a Ponzi scheme.
WE THE PEOPLE have raised the age qualifications for s.s. benefits several times. Forcing WE THE PEOPLE to work longer, with the assumption that when WE THE PEOPLE are old enough to draw from it, WE THE PEOPLE will not live long enough to suck very much from the coffer, assuming we get to that age.
Got to be a better way to do social security, is all i am saying.
Even though i am only one, I am still part of WE THE PEOPLE.

I was born into this world 1962, no complaints.
But, a child born today will have a harder time achieving the American Dream, because that child will most likely pay for our debts.

We have different political views, and that is fine.
On the topic of atheism, we are like minded.

March 15, 2011 at 5:37 am
(19) Austin Cline says:

Money is given to me as a barter for my time and effort. My time and my effort is mine.

The concept of “ownership” of anything is a social construct that depends upon the government and laws to exist.

Never said i reject paying taxes, I do not like the tax structure as it is. Prefer a Fair Tax system.

You say that as if there were an objectively fair system that should be obvious to all, as opposed to multiple possible systems that might be more or less fair depending upon the goals, objectives, and values of those participating.

The fact that you don’t approve of the current system doesn’t make it “Unfair.” The fact that you approve of another doesn’t make it “Fair.” The tax system you prefer is a reflection of your ideology which might or might not be reasonable on its own.

Even though i am only one, I am still part of WE THE PEOPLE.

And you have as much right as anyone to work to convince others to change course. I notice you aren’t here doing that; instead you’re somewhere else complaining.

March 14, 2011 at 10:21 pm
(20) Nashka says:

Do you believe in Aliens, UFO’s?

March 14, 2011 at 10:38 pm
(21) Nashka says:

Taxes are the same, by the way. The very notion that you “own” your money is a social convention created by, structured by, and defended by the government you object to paying taxes to. Demanding to be released from the context which makes something possible is as incoherent as expecting to give directions without the context of space to use.

Money is given to me as a barter for my time and effort.
My time and my effort is mine.
Example, i give of my time and physical effort to dig a ditch for my neighbor, so the water drains from his wheat field, as to not flood and destroy his crop. In return for my time and effort, he gives me a loaf of bread.
Am i digging a ditch to feed my family and assure there survival, or to spill my blood and sweat to feed others who are not willing to dig this ditch, knowing that i will do it and give of my bread to them.

March 16, 2011 at 1:19 pm
(22) Nashka says:

I gave 20+ years of my life proudly servicing our great nation
(USAF, DCANG). Now i am taking a break. Semi-Retired.

I have tried to find an atheist group, meeting place, here in Costa Rica. I have not found one. I am considering starting one myself.
Any suggestions?

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