Republican Legislators Advocate Extreme and Dangerous Measures While Pushing Pro-Life Agenda
Hypothetical. You just stepped on a landmine and the explosion blew off your leg. As you lay in a hospital bed, you struggle to grasp the long-term impact that this trauma will have on the rest of your life. Physically, you’re ailing. You can’t imagine what it will be like without the leg that you’d never anticipated living without. Emotionally, you’re distressed. How will the world judge you? Will your condition elicit stares of revulsion from strangers? Are you psychologically prepared to tackle the challenges you now face as a one-legged person?
As you’re processing all of these questions, a person knocks on the door to your hospital room and introduces himself as an agent of the government tasked with investigating your case. You ask him the purpose of his visit. He says that the law requires that within 72 hours of your injury, he must be dispatched to determine whether or not you planted the landmine that blew up your leg, and if he concludes that you knowingly played role in your injury, you could be subject to life in prison or execution. Tell me, are you pissed off right now?
A similar scenario, with much higher stakes and ramifications, could actually play out thousands of times every year in Georgia if House Bill 1 is passed. Introduced by Rep. Bobby Franklin, the bill would require that any woman who has had a miscarriage report the incident to authorities within 72 hours of its occurrence. At that point, an investigator will be dispatched to determine the cause of death, and if the mother cannot prove that there was no “human involvement,” then she can be charged with “prenatal murder,” which carries the penalty of death or life behind bars.
As a man, I will never have to experience the gut wrenching emotional toll that a miscarriage takes on a woman. I will never know what it’s like to have to grasp the reality that a life I was creating has been lost due to chance or trauma. Despite never being able to fully understand the pain of this moment, I can sure as hell tell you that the last thing I’d want in that situation is someone forcing me to prove my innocence within three days of losing my child.
Rep. Franklin’s proposed legislation, which thankfully, will likely be rejected, is one of the more detestable examples of a growing anti-abortion movement that’s picked up steam since the midterm elections. Representatives sent to Washington with the explicit directive of overseeing fiscal reform are taking advantage of their newfound majority by implementing radical, socially conservative initiatives into the national and state agendas.
Bills were proposed in Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa that would make killing someone doing harm to a fetus a “justifiable homicide.” In layman’s terms, this would mean that someone would be protected by law if they murdered a doctor to prevent him from performing an abortion. The bill in South Dakota, introduced by Rep. Phil Jensen, was shelved last week after Jensen said it needed revisions and was being taken out of context. He contended that the bill was purposed to protect pregnant women against third party threats, allowing only the pregnant women, their husbands, their parents and their children to commit “justifiable homicide” in their defense.
The Nebraska bill, however, which has not been tabled, goes much farther, allowing third parties to commit “justifiable homicide” to protect unborn fetuses. All of these legislators were approached by Americans United for Life (AUL), which has delivered its version of the “justified homicide” legislation to each of them as part of its anti-abortion campaign. Experts warn that this type of legislation carries a very real potential to incite violence.
“‘In short, this bill authorizes and protects vigilantes, and that’s something that’s unprecedented in our society,’ Melissa Grant of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland told the Nebraska legislature’s judiciary committee on Wednesday. Specifically, she warned, it could be used to target Planned Parenthood’s patients and personnel. Also testifying in opposition to the bill was David Baker, the deputy chief executive officer of the Omaha police department, who said, ‘We share the same fears…that this could be used to incite violence against abortion providers.’” – Mother Jones, February 24, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood. My home state of Virginia passed legislation that requires all offices, clinics and centers that perform first-trimester abortions to be regulated as hospitals. Experts argue that this is the strictest abortion regulation in the country, and it could lead to the shutdown of 17 of Virginia’s 21 abortion clinics. Proponents of the legislation said that abortion clinics should be held to hospital standards to ensure safety standards. This argument falls flat, however, when you consider the fact that plastic surgery centers are not required to meet these criteria.
Legislation isn’t the only war front on the anti-abortion battlefield. Last week, a Texas-based anti-abortion group sponsored a billboard ad in New York City that read “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.” Aside from relying on some very debatable statistics and making overreaching assumptions, the billboard – erected during Black History Month – was distasteful and designed to be painful to black women who have had abortions.
These deplorable tactics being used by the conservative right to try to revive the abortion debate are at best extreme, and at worse, dangerous. Considering the legalization of “justifiable homicide” as a way to deter women from exercising their rights to abortions constitutionally guaranteed to them by Roe v. Wade is unethical, reprehensible and un-American.