Commentary Abortion

Miscarriage-as-Murder Bill Center of GOP War on Women

Amie Newman

Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta, GA) of "rape victims aren't victims" and, now, miscarriage is "prenatal murder" infamy, is not simply a "Lone Ranger," as some call him. He's exactly what happens when we allow a GOP full-scale war on women, girls and families to get this far.

Sigh. This is what happens when you find someone who’s earned an undergraduate degree in both “Biblical studies” and “Business Administration,” have him run for state representative unopposed in 2010 (although he’s been part of the Georgia House of Representatives since 1996) and then allow him to revel in a nation-wide political assault on women, led by the Republican party, of which he’s a member.

Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta) of “rape victims should be classified as accusers and not victims” fame – or the “Lone Ranger” as he’s been called and has taken to calling himself – has most recently introduced a bill to criminalize miscarriages, renaming the process “prenatal murder.” Oh, they say, no. It’s only miscarriages where the cause cannot be determined – not all miscarriages. Well, folks, that’s most miscarriages.

Here’s the thing: you’ll need, as others more witty than I have deemed them, a team of Uterus Police Officers – to suss this out as a crime.

Ask my midwife why I miscarried with my second pregnancy. What was the cause? The cause was my body behaving as the female human body will sometimes behave. What do you mean – what’s the cause?! Was there human involvement in the causation of the event? Of course my body was “involved in the cause of the event.” If the female body itself is criminalized – something this bill would do – we may as well throw all girls and women on an island somewhere far away and let us fend for ourselves in all of our evil glory. Sadly, that does not sound so horrible at this point and time.

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HB 1 creates a new legal classification for pregnancy termination – “Prenatal Murder,”

‘Prenatal murder’ means the intentional removal of a fetus from a woman with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus; provided, however, that if a physician makes a medically justified effort to save the lives of both the mother and the fetus and the fetus does not survive, such action shall not be prenatal murder. Such term does not include a naturally occurring expulsion of a fetus known medically as a ‘spontaneous abortion’ and popularly as a ‘miscarriage’ so long as there is no human involvement whatsoever in the causation of such event.   (c) The act of prenatal murder is contrary to the health and well-being of the citizens of  this state and to the state itself and is illegal in this state in all instances.   (d) Any person committing prenatal murder in this state shall be guilty of a felony and,  upon conviction, shall be punished as provided in subsection (d) of Code Section 16-5-1.  The license of any physician indicted for an alleged violation of this Code section shall be    suspended until resolution of the matter. The license of any physician convicted of a   violation of this Code section shall be permanently revoked. The provisions of this Code  section shall be in addition to any other provisions relating to the killing of a fetus or any other person.”

I have it on good authority that even those who work in the political arena think he’s crazy; that he does not represent the state of Georgia. But just who is he representing and how did he get this far? Franklin may be seen as a rogue representative but he’s far from it. Representative Bobby Franklin is empowered by the current state of extreme agenda-setting by the GOP. Instead of focusing on the health and lives and current well-being of Americans – especially the millions of Americans who seem to be living in an increasingly separate state, those who are uninsured or underinsured in terms of health coverage, those who are unemployed or underemployed, those who are living near, at or below the poverty line, women, people of color and children – Republicans are intent upon ripping away any shred of assistance owed to these citizens, as much as governmental safety net programs, paid for by our taxes, are owed to us all.

Franklin’s horrifying bill is not out of left field in the least, if you’ve been following the constant legislative pummeling on the “other” Americans. House GOP leaders proposed a budget which places the health and lives of the rest of us in danger. From cutting billions in aid to programs like Women, Infant, Children (WIC) which helps pay for milk, formula, food and diapers to defunding our nation’s only federal program, Title X, which provides for critical preventative care like Pap tests, breast exams, STI checks, HIV tests and more, to cutting millions in foreign aid to PEPFAR, our global AIDS prevention program, which helps prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission among other things, we’re watching a crisis of principles play out in front of our eyes.

Women’s health advocates may be the warriors out in front of this battle but if we allow the GOP to do what they’re doing, it may end up being a victory for all of us “other” Americans. Are they not digging their own graves at this point? Rep. Michele Bachmann is “taking a stance” against families being able to use their own pre-tax dollars to cover breastfeeding pumps, making quite the couragous stand against First Lady Michelle Obama’s work to combat the obesity epidemic and the CDC’s goals to increase breastfeeding rates for the health and lives of our mothers and babies.

Rep. Bobby Franklin may not be taken seriously by his colleagues but his proposal to criminalize miscarriage must be seen as relevant to the broader assault – not just on women and women’s bodies. This is an assault on freedom and justice. It’s an assault on all Americans who understand that there is a difference between making a personal decision not to do something with which you disagree and legislating inhumanity and injustice. The introduction of this bill must be viewed as the center of the current storm. When the GOP creates a climate of absolute antipathy for humankind, displayed in their assault particularly on women’s health and lives, bills like this are born.

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