Image © Austin Cline
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?