There are few things that leave me speechless. At times, I think I'm a woman of too many words. Then, I read House Bill 1 (2011) which was recently presented in the Georgia State Assembly by Georgia state representative, Bobby Franklin (R-43).
I have to say. When I first read this piece of legislation, I was impressed. Mr. Franklin did a fantastic job of fully supporting his position. That man definitely knows the Constitution of the United States. Impressive is an understatement.
And I agreed with him.
But then I kept reading.
Let me backtrack for a minute. I first became aware of this legislation because someone messaged me and asked me to look at it. She had heard things about it. She thought that surely what she were hearing wasn't true. She didn't know much about political things and bills and such, though...and wondered if I'd take a look at the bill. So I did.
What had she heard? That this piece of legislation (which is applicable to the state of Georgia only) would outlaw prenatal murder in all forms including abortion and spontaneous abortion otherwise known as miscarriage.
I messaged her back. Yeah. I was pretty sure that someone had misread something and/or was blowing something WAY out of proportion. NO ONE would propose a law that DARED say that women who suffered from miscarriages had committed MURDER and were equal to women who CHOOSE to have their children killed. Still, I'd find the legislation and look it over just to be sure.
In my search for the bill, I found several people talking about it. They said that the bill wouldn't hold women who had suffered miscarriages responsible if THEY could prove that there was no human involvement in the miscarriage.
Again, surely these people were blowing something out of proportion. Surely they were. They HAD to be.
I wish I could come to you and tell you that what people aren't saying isn't true. I really wish I could.
Sadly, I cannot.
I truly believe that the author of this bill did not INTEND for his bill to be interpreted as it has. I HAVE to believe that. There's a saying when it comes to legislation, though. Don't leave ANYTHING up for debate or future interpretation. If you do so, then you are leaving it up to others who may or may not believe as you do to interpret things as they so desire within the confines of the law. There are too many open clauses. Too many "what-ifs". Too many things that are not clearly spelled out. Until those issues are fixed, I cannot support what I think is otherwise an excellently written piece of legislation.
(Lest someone bring up the fact that I don't currently nor have I ever live in Georgia...I believe that we should all be concerned about legislation in every state. What happens in one state tends to trickle down to the others. Plus, you never know when you or a family member may end up living in a particular state. I think it's prudent for us to keep abreast of other state's major issues as best we can.)
For those who thrive on the details (ahem...like me), I've got them below. To make this easier on myself, I'm just going to include the page number & line number. The bill's not incredibly long (just 10 pages total) so it should still be easy to read with that info even if they make some changes. My comments will be in bold italics.
(Page 3, Lines 118-120) "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." (This part in read...what does that mean? Well...I know what it means and what I assume the author of the bill meant. Unfortunately, this isn't a clear definition. It leaves something open for interpretation. Who decides that there was no human involvement? How do you define human involvement? Who has to prove that there was no human involvement? I speak from experience here...when a woman has a miscarriage, she already questions everything. And I do mean everything as in every. single. thing. that she did to try & figure out why? Was it something she did? Something she didn't do that she should have? Could she have prevented it? There are some women who still have periods and/or don't have positive pregnancy tests until they're further along. They might drink, smoke, not take prenatals, have aspirin, ibuprofen, eat bad, not get enough sleep...and the list could potentially go on. The problem with the statement above, as written, is that it leaves the possibility out there that a woman could be jailed for a miscarriage if she unknowingly did something that could have...but didn't necessarily...cause the miscarriage. Like I've said before, if the possibility that something COULD happen in legislation then we have to assume that it WILL when determining whether or not to pass it as is.)
Please keep in mind that the above analysis doesn't even begin to cover this issue.
There are so many others that COULD come into play. What happens if a mom who lives and/or works in Georgia goes across state lines for an abortion that is legal in that state and is then charged with murder upon returning home. That one act could bring this issue before the Supreme Court...Constitutionally.
The bottom line, though, is that I don't believe this bill will pass as written. It might get through the house, but I doubt it would actually make it into law as written. I will be very surprised if it does.
What are your thoughts on this issue? What other issues do you think could arise from this legislation? Do you agree with it? Why? Why not?