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Investigating Miscarriages

February 23, 2011

That’s it. I’m out of here. I didn’t consider it fair to call Republicans pro-rape because of their support for the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” and I don’t believe that their proposal to block funding of Planned Parenthood makes them hateful of women—although, they might look less antagonistic to women’s needs if they proposed an alternative way of funding the prenatal care and other health services currently offered by Planned Parenthood.

News out of Georgia, however, leaves me wanting to throw my hands in the air, kick the dust from my feet, and exit the discussion, no more to defend the motives of anti-abortion lawmakers. State Representative Bobby Franklin has introduced a bill that would, in my estimation, create a greater incentive and directive for an investigating official to determine the cause of fetal death when a women miscarries. The idea, I guess, is to investigate miscarriages that might have been intentionally caused and therefore fall into the category of “prenatal murder.”*

Does Franklin not realize the needless additional suffering he would inflict on women who have just lost a baby?   Does he not care about the consequences of treating women who have miscarried as suspected criminals?  Whatever the motives behind this bill – and if hatred of women isn’t one of them, cruel indifference to women is clearly at work – this bill is anti-woman and deserves unequivocal condemnation from the pro-life movement.

H/T: Feminist Philosophers

*Revised

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91 Comments
  1. a.j. permalink
    February 23, 2011 9:28 pm

    This proposal is simply the logical conclusion of the anti-abortion position that values the fetus to the absolute disregard of the mother. If life begins at fertilization, then every miscarrying uterus is a potential murder-scene.

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      February 23, 2011 10:03 pm

      Is every death bed a potential murder-scene?

  2. February 23, 2011 9:39 pm

    COOL! When do we start burning witches at the stake again? That always sounded like fun to me.

    You didn’t leave the building, sanity did.

  3. Molly Roach permalink
    February 23, 2011 9:45 pm

    There is a lot of hatred of women in this world and a growing number of people willing to institutionalize that in the law and that is what makes the issue of abortion so explosive.

  4. phosphorious permalink
    February 23, 2011 9:56 pm

    This proposal is simply the logical conclusion of the anti-abortion position that values the fetus to the absolute disregard of the mother. If life begins at fertilization, then every miscarrying uterus is a potential murder-scene.

    And every miscarriage becomes a possible recless homicide. After all, surely the mother could have done something to protect the fetus, if only she hadn;t been so neglectful.

  5. doug permalink
    February 23, 2011 9:58 pm

    Kyle:

    The bill puts an unborn person on the same legal footing as a person who has been born. In most, if not all states, deaths are to be reported, and investigated if not occurring with a physician in attendance. If a woman calls her physician, that physician to seek medical advice in the matter, that would amount to having a physician in attendance. It only requires an “investigation” if no physician is in attendance. Typically for any death that occurs outside of a medical facility, investigation is minimal unless there is some affirmative reason to suspect foul play. When I was working in assisted living and a death occurred, we simply reported it to the police and that was the end of the matter.

    Perhaps you should write to the legislature in that state and suggest amendments. I think a reasonable amendment would be to simply allow reporting, and an investigation only if there is reasonable suspicion of foul play. We had three miscarriages last year, and my wife sought medical advice for each one. The process can take quite some time to complete. As I read the bill, my wife would have had no reporting requirements, and it would be taken care of by the doctor’s office. If we didn’t have medical insurance, however, I certainly would not want someone probing into it, although I wouldn’t object to simply reporting it. Government does have a legitimate need to monitor both deaths and births. Government does not have any need to intrude into private matters unless there is affirmative evidence of a crime. Having a miscarriage does not constitute evidence of a crime. I would resent a government investigation if we couldn’t afford a doctor during a miscarriage. A report of a beating and subsequent miscarriage is evidence of a crime that should be investigated.

    • February 23, 2011 10:28 pm

      I have said all along we need to pin down the day when we can confirm we do not have just a clump of cells and brain wave activity that matches newborns.

      This is attainable. It would not stop all abortions but it would stop many. But until we have this, we are tangling with 1st amendment rights.

      And until we have such a thing this law is beyond the pale, way beyond it, and the total lack of sensitivity displayed by this power grab is about as sickening as what is happening to workers in Wisconsin.

      That is the connection. A total power grab that shows no respect. Smells like right wing spirit.

      Too bad Cobain is dead now.

      • doug permalink
        February 23, 2011 11:35 pm

        Is the part the defines life as beginning at conception “beyond the pale”? That’s Catholic teaching. I think it’s a mix of positive and negative. Positive in that it defines life as beginning at conception, negative in that it has the potential to intrude on a family’s privacy during a very upsetting time.

        • February 23, 2011 11:49 pm

          Last time I checked America was not a Catholic Theocracy.

        • doug permalink
          February 23, 2011 11:57 pm

          So in other words, you do think that defining life as beginning at conception is “beyond the pale”? Correct me if you don’t think so.

          To my thinking, the fact that this is not a “Catholic theocracy” is hardly a reason for our laws to not define life as beginning at conception.

        • February 24, 2011 8:38 am

          That is your way of thinking and that is also the way I live my life. You however should read the 1st amendment and then if you have any questions, I will gladly help you through them.

          Yes, by our laws defining life as beginning at conception is not even remotely permissible.

        • Thales permalink
          February 24, 2011 8:54 am

          Belief that life begins at conception is not a theological belief.

          Cheers!

        • brettsalkeld permalink*
          February 24, 2011 9:04 am

          gisher,
          You bring this up often, but I don’t think it works. The first amendment has nothing to do with defining life as beginning at conception. This is not a question of imposing religious beliefs any more than making theft illegal is a question of imposing religious beliefs.

          We have to win the public argument to succeed, sure. But we are not prevented from entering the public argument because Church teaching says life begins at conception. We’re just not allowed to use that as our argument in the public sphere.

        • February 24, 2011 9:07 am

          Ah Thales my man, when you can get the 1st amendment to permit you to take any belief and cram it down someone else’s throat you will have become one really great tort attorney.

          In the meantime my friend tell that one to an atheist, or an agnostic such as my wife.

          Think in legal terms Thales. Legal.

        • Thales permalink
          February 24, 2011 9:30 am

          gisher,

          Stop trying to cram down my throat your religious belief that life doesn’t begin at conception! Think of the 1st Amendment! :)

        • February 24, 2011 9:40 am

          Brett, we are allowed to bring this up in public discourse yes indeed.

          The next step though for many would be to ban contraceptives based upon this belief. It’s a matter of legal definitions and intents. You can publicly express any thought or belief you have in this country.

          You just cannot execute actions off of them Brett. And that by the way is where any good Catholic who does not understand our laws would head next.

          If you would like, do a post on this and we can discuss it further.

        • brettsalkeld permalink*
          February 24, 2011 1:25 pm

          Thanks for the invitation, but I don’t have time to do a post on it right now. However, I will just add that I don’t think anyone (except maybe Voris) thinks we can simply impose these things. We are just saying that we have the right to argue in the public sphere that the law should be shaped a certain way. Everyone (religious or not) has that right.

          In fact, the Church’s position that we cannot use violence even to defend unborn babies from slaughter is a radical affirmation of the idea that we cannot impose, we can only persuade.

          We could never impose that contraceptives be legally banned simply because the Catholic Church says so. On the other hand, the fact that the Catholic Church is against contraceptives does not mean that anyone who is making a public argument for the illegality of contraceptives is violating the 1st amendment. Making a public case for something is not the same as imposing it by fiat.

          Now, the person making the public case for making contraceptives illegal is fighting an uphill battle, but not because of the 1st amendment. If we were in a culture where, “because the Church says so” was a convincing argument, we would even be permitted to use such an argument publically. In fact, we are permitted to use it publically now, but we should know that, since it is unconvincing in the public arena, we won’t get anywhere. In any case, the only way we violate the 1st amendment is if we insist that, because the “because the Church says so” argument is unconvincing in our culture, we do not have to convince our fellow citizens, but can rather impose upon them. I don’t know of anyone here who is advocating that.

        • phosphorious permalink
          February 24, 2011 11:24 am

          ‘So in other words, you do think that defining life as beginning at conception is “beyond the pale”?

          I will go on record as saying that legally definign life as beginning at conception is beyond the pale.

        • February 24, 2011 2:25 pm

          Yes Brett we have the right to discuss and argue all we want. But if we are trying to shape policy and you want it to be legal then any such talk –especially with birth control will require the appeal of the 1st amendment. That does not mean bad judgments have allowed stuff to squeak by this bar, but they were bad judgments, and subject to tests at any time.

    • RCM permalink
      February 24, 2011 1:07 am

      A couple of points. Most doctors/midwives won’t even see a pregnant woman until she is 10 weeks along because miscarriage is so common prior & if it happens there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.

      Second, I have miscarried twice. The first time I did go to a doctor and all he did was confirm, yes, I was indeed miscarrying and the follow up that said, yes, it was over. The second time I miscarried I didn’t bother going to any doctor. What was the point. And HOW on earth would the state know a woman is even pregnant?

      The whole thing is just ridiculous!

      • grega permalink
        February 24, 2011 11:25 am

        Thanks RCM for your much needed voice – it is rather interesting to see the catholic blogsphere mostly dominated/hosted by merciless pontificating male pharisees.
        This site being a noticable exception.

  6. RCM permalink
    February 23, 2011 9:59 pm

    Kyle, women do NOT matter in this discussion. When you listen to most pro-lifers arguing about abortion, women are merely incidental. This latest move proves it.

    • R.C. permalink
      February 23, 2011 11:16 pm

      RCM, that’s just crazy talk.

      Pro-lifers are among the biggest funders and supporters of women’s shelters and charitable provision of various kinds — job training, healthcare — to unwed mothers. It is simply false to say that pro-lifers care nothing for the mothers, or for the children once they are born. Their own patterns of voluntary giving and volunteerism prove otherwise.

      In short, show me a Catholic who’s passionate about pro-life, and I’ll show you a Catholic who monthly gives above-tithe of his income for the benefit of pregnant unwed mothers and their already born children. In the culture of the pro-life movement, it’s not only common, it’s nearly cliché.

      This doesn’t mean I think the proposed law is hunky-dory. It sounds fraught with unwisdom.

      And it is, I admit, true that when pro-lifers and pro-choicers are arguing about abortion, the women don’t come up much in the pro-lifers’ arguments. But this fact doesn’t mean what you imply it means.

      The women don’t come up in such debates overmuch for a perfectly rational reason; namely: The personhood (and thus, the right to life) of the woman is not at issue. Both sides agree on that, just as much as they agree on the blueness of an unclouded sky. So, like the blueness of an unclouded sky, the intrinsic dignity of the mother isn’t directly referenced in pro-lifers’ arguments. It needn’t be. The contested issue is the personhood, and thus the right-to-life, of the baby. So naturally that is the focus of the debate.

      • RCM permalink
        February 24, 2011 1:07 am

        How on earth is this pro-woman, RC? Really?

  7. Cindy permalink
    February 23, 2011 10:10 pm

    I would have to think that if something like this were to ever pass, there is going to be a huge uprising, and I will be a part of it. This type of thing really does hurt the pro life movement, because it confirms in the suspicious minds of others, that pro lifers really are extreme and crazy. Not the imgage you really want out there. It’s almost like women count for nothing. It just disgusts me.

  8. February 23, 2011 11:04 pm

    News out of Georgia, however, leaves me wanting to throw my hands in the air, kick the dust from my feet, and exit the discussion, no more to defend the motives of anti-abortion lawmakers.

    What can I say, Kyle, not every Republican nor every pro-lifer has the ability to control what every other idiot who belongs to one of those groups does. Heck, I’d never even heard of this until I saw your post here.

    FWIW, having read the bill you linked to, it looks to me like it’s simply applying existing law for investigating deaths to unborn children. For context, when I was seven and my infant brother died of SIDS, the state of California did, according to its law, conduct an investigation into the death, as they do with any other death. The same happened when my grandmother, who was living with my wife and I at the time, died at 93. So whether you’re 93 or six months old, the state does an investigation. In both cases, it was a very non-invasive process and we never even had to answer any questions aside from how the deceased was found and when.

    That said, this is clearly an absolutely idiotic PR move — and even without this kind of stupidity the bill as written would go absolutely nowhere because it’s contrary to current jurisprudence and is simply too extreme even for a fairly conservative state like George. That probably explains why the bill shows signs of being written so uncarefully.

    Whether that means that pro-lifers or Republicans as a group do not care about women at all is, I suppose something which each reader will have to determine. It is, of course, easy to find extreme or stupid members of any movement. I’m not sure if it’s any more accurate or satisfying to conclude that pro-lifers hate women (something I don’t think you universally hold, but which some commenters on this thread appear to) than it is to conclude that all feminists hate men, or that all post modernists are atheists, or that all environmentalists hate humans. But there are, after all, people who make each of these conclusions so I don’t see why people can’t go through a similar thought process in regards to the pro-life movement.

    • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
      February 23, 2011 11:34 pm

      Darwin,

      My response is, admittedly, rather knee-jerk. Franklin hasn’t really changed my view of the GOP or pro-lifers generally.

    • February 24, 2011 12:24 am

      “For context, when I was seven and my infant brother died of SIDS, the state of California did, according to its law, conduct an investigation into the death, as they do with any other death. The same happened when my grandmother, who was living with my wife and I at the time, died at 93. So whether you’re 93 or six months old, the state does an investigation.”

      That is context for humans who have already been birthed and not context for the unborn. The bill applies to the “unborn”. According to current law, whether we like it or not, the “unborn” are not accorded the same privileges as those who managed to make it out of the womb.

  9. February 23, 2011 11:07 pm

    Do you object when there’s a minimal investigation into SIDS deaths?

    • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
      February 23, 2011 11:35 pm

      Not necessarily.

    • Cindy permalink
      February 23, 2011 11:42 pm

      SIDS deaths happen after a baby is alive. Misscarraiges happen sometimes before a woman even know’s she’s pregnant.

      • doug permalink
        February 24, 2011 12:04 am

        Very true. They also occur before it is possible to recover any remains from a miscarriage. That would make an investigation a virtual impossibility in a majority of cases. It would only be a small minority off miscarriages that would actually be susceptible to any sort of investigation. Remember, though, this is just a bill. It is hoped that the legislative process will resolve problems with a bill. I see a real positive in the definition of life as beginning at conception, and it would provide a means to prosecute someone who might assault a pregnant woman in such a way as to kill her unborn child. It’s a problematic bill, but not hopeless.

      • RCM permalink
        February 24, 2011 1:08 am

        Exactly, Cindy!

      • brettsalkeld permalink*
        February 24, 2011 8:21 am

        Miscarriages happen after the baby is alive, by definition, but often before we know the baby exists.

        • Cindy permalink
          February 24, 2011 8:41 am

          No miscarriages happen once the baby is dead. The baby is dead inside and that is why it is miscarried.

        • brettsalkeld permalink*
          February 24, 2011 9:01 am

          OK. Now I see what you’re saying. Is that the medical definition? The delivery of a baby that is already dead?

          In common parlance it also means the death of the baby, no?

          I suspect the law is concerned with the death bit, not the delivery bit.

          (Not that I am supportive of such a law.)

        • Cindy permalink
          February 24, 2011 10:05 am

          Is that the medical definition? The delivery of a baby that is already dead?

          Brett, I really can’t answer this because I would guess that in many instances a woman would just bleed out for 7 to 10 days and it can bascially just be like her menstral cycle. It would all depend at what stage the miscarriage occured. I was under the impression that after 20 weeks of pregnancy it would be called a still birth and no longer a miscarriage. 1 in 5 pregnancies end up in miscarriages. When the body does not expel the former pregnancy on it’s own, that is when most women will have to have a D&C.

  10. February 24, 2011 5:35 am

    If a miscarriage is NOT the fault of the woman, then who is the “murderer?” A minimum of 30% and more probably up to 60% of all conceptions fail to embed and thrive. Usually this occurs without ever having been detected. But, if there is “ensoulment” at conception, how are we to account for this high failure rate? Again: if the miscarriage is NOT the fault of the woman, then who is the “murderer?”

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      February 24, 2011 8:27 am

      Why does there have to be a “murderer”? It’s a natural death.

      • February 24, 2011 9:09 am

        I don’t think that there is a murderer. But I am examining the issue raised by this post as if it had been stipulated that there is plausible guilt to be looked for in the case of a miscarriage.
        If a mother can be a suspect in some instances, who is the suspect in the rest of the instances?
        The main issue pertaining to my question is: if there is ensoulment at conception, and if every soul is inherently precious, why are so many souls simply discarded along with the body to which they are joined? Why were they ever created in the first place?

        • brettsalkeld permalink*
          February 24, 2011 9:31 am

          I agree that it is nonsense to treat the mother as a potential murderer, but I don’t think your last paragraph follows.

          Aren’t all souls eventually “discarded along with the body to which they are joined”? I don’t understand the, “so many miscarriages happen that they can’t really be people” argument. Everybody dies.

          Now I’m not supporting this bill. But I don’t agree with some others who object that this is the logical consequence of saying a child in utero is a real person. The circumstances here mean that virtually no such deaths would be suspicious and investigating them would be an unnecessary burden. Circumstantially, the law is problematic, so I reject it. But I don’t see how rejecting this bill correlates with insisting that the child is not a person. I am perfectly comfortable asserting both that the child is a real person and that this law is non-sense.

        • phosphorious permalink
          February 24, 2011 11:55 am

          I don’t understand the, “so many miscarriages happen that they can’t really be people” argument. Everybody dies.

          This is the crucial point, though, isn’t it? If a three year old is found dead, the natural response is to ask why this happened. Miscarriage is a much more common event. To hold an investigation each time a miscarriage occurs is to be deeply ignorant of the process of gestation.

          Which raises an interesting point: what this law, if it passes, will only show is the rather large disanalogy between an embryo and a child. In practical terms, I think it will be simply impossible to treat them the same way.

        • brettsalkeld permalink*
          February 24, 2011 1:29 pm

          I agree that life at different stages is differently vulnerable. I am much more concerned when I find a 22-year old dead in his bed than when I find an 85-year old dead in his. Embryos are humans in one of their most fragile states and I think that legally that should play out in our not investigating their deaths as a matter of course but only in such instances as, for instance, when violence against the mother causes her to miscarry.
          I don’t think that proving life is fragile is anything like proving life isn’t life.

      • phosphorious permalink
        February 24, 2011 11:51 am

        Why does there have to be a “murderer”? It’s a natural death.

        It’s a natural death. . . once a proper investigation has been completed and ruled it such, if this bill becomes law.

        The proposed law turns every miscarriage into suspicious circumstances that must be investigated.

        A REALLY bad idea.

        • brettsalkeld permalink*
          February 24, 2011 1:30 pm

          Agreed.

  11. Melody permalink
    February 24, 2011 6:36 am

    One thing puzzles me. With abortion being legal across the board, if someone wanted to get rid of a pregnancy, wouldn’t they just have an abortion, rather than throw themselves down the stairs or something to induce a miscarriage? Unless this legislation is talking about someone else causing harm to the mother which causes a miscarriage.

    • February 24, 2011 9:13 am

      Melody-there are many places in this country now where a woman without financial resources, who cannot afford to travel, has no access to a clinic where abortions are performed. So there are still illegal and self-induced abortions being resorted to by desperate women despite the legality.
      You might want to look into what’s been going on in the state of Kanas in this regard.

  12. Phillip permalink
    February 24, 2011 9:01 am

    When I was a resident, we were required to examin all miscarriages. Was woken up at two or three in the morning to check on a dead fetus (no implication to this term other than to refer to a previously living human.) Purpose was to determine if there was some cause that we could tell the parents and potentially work to prevent in the future.

    Haven’t read the bill though Darwin’s take it looks like it may be along those lines.

  13. Cindy permalink
    February 24, 2011 9:23 am

    Here is what I am thinking. I thought we lived in a land where a person is innocent until proven guilty of something. What this bill seems to be implying is that a woman needs to prove her innocence, in something as natural and as common as a misscarriage is. If you can’t prove your innocence, then you as a woman should face felony charges. Am I as a woman supposed to be delighted in that? Well I am not. I am not interested in sipping from that cup. To me is seems like a waste of time, energy and resources. One one side you have the Pro Life movement saying that even if Roe V Wade were ever overturned, that women would not be charged as criminals. The abortion Dr. would. Yet, then you have an extreme bill like this put forth, and people still come out and defend it. I just view this type of bill and attack on women. I don’t see the positive sides of this, as some other commenters seem to see.

  14. February 24, 2011 10:01 am

    Again, being clear that I think this law is a dumb idea at several levels, unless I’m drastically mis-reading the law it doesn’t look to me like it’s specifically saying that every miscarriage needs to be investigated to see whether an abortion took place — a “murder investigation” of sorts. Rather, it’s simply applying what appears to be standard language of what is to be done if a death occurs in the state to the case of a miscarriage. The relevant section is:

    Said title is further amended by revising subsection (a) of Code Section 31-10-18, relating
    198 to registration of spontaneous fetal deaths, as follows:
    199 “(a) A report of spontaneous fetal death for each spontaneous fetal death which occurs in
    200 this state shall be filed with the local registrar of the county in which the delivery occurred
    201 within 72 hours after such delivery in accordance with this Code section unless the place
    202 of fetal death is unknown, in which case a fetal death certificate shall be filed in the county
    203 in which the dead fetus was found within 72 hours after such occurrence. Preparation and filing of reports of spontaneous fetal death shall be as follows:
    206 (1) When a dead fetus is delivered in an institution, the person in charge of the institution
    207 or that person’s designated representative shall prepare and file the report;
    208 (2) When a dead fetus is delivered outside an institution, the physician in attendance at
    209 or immediately after delivery shall prepare and file the report;
    210 (3) When a spontaneous fetal death required to be reported by this Code section occurs
    211 without medical attendance at or immediately after the delivery or when inquiry is
    212 required by Article 2 of Chapter 16 of Title 45, the ‘Georgia Death Investigation Act,’ the
    213 proper investigating official shall investigate the cause of fetal death and shall prepare
    214 and file the report within 30 days; and
    215 (4) When a spontaneous fetal death occurs in a moving conveyance and the fetus is first
    216 removed from the conveyance in this state or when a dead fetus is found in this state and
    217 the place of fetal death is unknown, the fetal death shall be reported in this state. The
    218 place where the fetus was first removed from the conveyance or the dead fetus was found
    219 shall be considered the place of fetal death.”

    This looks to me like it’s a simple case of taking standard procedures for filing paperwork on why a natural death occurred and applying them to the case of a miscarriage. I think there are some practical reasons why this is misguided, but the idea that there would be a “murder investigation” into every miscarriage seems to be something which the people protesting against the bill are applying, not something actually indicated by the bill. This may be motivated by the fact that the bill elsewhere says that in cases where the previous code would have indicated the cause of death should be indicated as “intentional termination of pregnancy” on relevant medical paperwork, it should now be listed as “fetal murder”. Again, I think this is pretty much grandstanding, and I think it’s probably important to recognize that even in a state like Georgia a bill like this is doubtless going nowhere, but the interpretation being applied to the bill by pro-choicers does not appear to be the actual intent of the bill. It’s just that the bill naively and stupidly falls into doing exactly what pro-choicers are always saying pro-lifers want to do: create a police state in which women are constantly being harassed by police trying to be sure they’re treating their unborn children well.

    • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
      February 24, 2011 2:35 pm

      I didn’t take the bill as requiring the investigation of every miscarriage, especially as many of these are not even known to be miscarriages. However, as you note, the bill applies the “Georgia Death Investigation Act” to miscarriages. Also, in failing to define “human involvement,” it creates a cruel atmosphere of uncertainty and dread. Women who miscarry often feel guilt, but this law might also have them feeling terrified that they’ll face severe legal consequences if their “human involvement” possibly led to the miscarriage.

    • February 24, 2011 3:23 pm

      To my understanding, “Death Investigation Act” basically just requires that the cause of death be noted when a death is filed. They’re not going to roll out “CSI Pre-Born Georgia” or anything. More like they just check a box as to what the cause of death appears to be.

  15. Matt Bowman permalink
    February 24, 2011 10:09 am

    The “evil pro-life movement” is also the source for this bill:

    http://www.lifenews.com/2011/02/07/west-virginia-legislators-propose-bill-to-honor-stillborn-babies/

  16. February 24, 2011 10:10 am

    This is for my good friend Thales, as well as Brett who I deeply respect and Doug, who I hope to know better. (I hate scrunched up comboxes)

    Yes, “life” begins at conception. There is also “life” beginning and continuing inside my big toe on my left foot.

    I also agree with my faith that human life begins at conception. The problem is getting that to become the full force of law in this country. If it were the case now, abortion would not be legal.

    Contraception and abortion are both loathed by Catholics even though we practice and are allowed to practice contraception ourselves. We just cannot use modern technology to do it. Frankly this is an area I would like to debate with the Pope myself. But I digress.

    This is a legal issue, not a doctrinal issue. This is why I constantly state on VN that I would like to see a legal definition for when there is a “human life” within the womb. If we had one, any abortion performed after that point would be a murder and subject to our laws.

    By legal definition for when there is a “human life” within the womb I mean let’s have parameters such as does it look like a human instead or a salamander or a clump of cells you could have hauled out from my big toe.

    Does it have brain activity that resembles a newborn? That is something we can do, and we can put the teeth into with a full force of law.

    Or we could just continue to argue about this till we get blue in the face and never get any effective changes out of this. I dunno guys, your call.

  17. MarkH permalink
    February 24, 2011 10:22 am

    Is it possible this bill is a rather heavy-handed attempt to deal with the consequences of the abortion pill? The future of abortion is moving out of the clinics and into private homes, where the unborn child has no one at all to speak up for him if her mother will not.

    “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” – Isaiah

  18. February 24, 2011 10:31 am

    The law (which I only skimmed) appears to define personhood as beginning at conception and to deny that Roe v Wade is applicable in Georgia.

  19. Blackadder permalink
    February 24, 2011 11:23 am

    I must be missing something, because I’ve read the bill, and I can’t find where it would empower an investigating official to determine the cause of fetal death when a women miscarries. Could someone point me to the specific provision they believe does this?

    • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
      February 24, 2011 2:22 pm

      When a spontaneous fetal death required to be reported by this Code section occurs without medical attendance at or immediately after the delivery or when inquiry is required by Article 2 of Chapter 16 of Title 45, the ‘Georgia Death Investigation Act,’ the proper investigating official shall investigate the cause of fetal death and shall prepare and file the report within 30 days…

  20. Blackadder permalink
    February 24, 2011 11:34 am

    Okay, I think I see the problem. When reading a bill, the language that is underlined is what is being added. Language that has a strikethrough is what would be deleted. Any other statutory language that is quoted reflects existing law that is unchanged by the bill.

    In other words, the requirement that people are objecting to is already part of Georgia law. The proposed bill does nothing to change it, other than by deleting a reference to abortion.

  21. Thales permalink
    February 24, 2011 2:41 pm

    Blackadder’s comment made take a closer look at the bill. And I think he’s right.

    Contrary to Kyle’s claim in the post, Franklin’s bill does NOT empower an investigating official to determine the cause of fetal death when a women miscarries. The bill doesn’t do this, because it is already the law in Georgia. Franklin’s bill is the underlined language, the language that says life begins at conception.

    After my very short research, it looks like this type of miscarriage reporting requirement is pretty standard across the states – which makes sense for the reasons that Philip mentions above. Further, abortions and deaths have to be reported also, and it makes sense for a state to keep as accurate numbers as possible on abortions, miscarriages, etc.

    In conclusion: Calm down everyone. There is no crisis here. Kyle, you’ve been had by a hysterical overreaction by the Feminist Philosophers blog.

    • February 24, 2011 2:55 pm

      “Franklin’s bill is the underlined language, the language that says life begins at conception”

      Umm…That language “life begins at conception” is the issue Thales. Thanks to you now maybe most of my other comments in this thread might look slightly less hallucinatory to others.

      Yes Watson, you have found the suspicious language. We should team up Thales. At least it would be entertaining.

    • Phosphorious permalink
      February 24, 2011 3:08 pm

      So this new law does nothing that isn’t already being done?

      Then it’s a waste of time. Why are these idiots wastingbtime? Have they nothing better to do?

      • February 24, 2011 4:31 pm

        See the comment just above yours.

      • Blackadder permalink
        February 24, 2011 5:01 pm

        So this new law does nothing that isn’t already being done?

        No, the bill bans abortion, which is pretty major. But it doesn’t empower investigations as to the cause of fetal death when a women miscarries, as this is already a part of the law.

        • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
          February 24, 2011 5:20 pm

          Do you think the bill’s new language about prenatal murder possibly including miscarriages caused by “human involvement” could have any consequences for the prenatal death investigations already part of the law? Might investigators be more compelled to investigate whether or not “human involvement” was a factor in a miscarriage?

        • Blackadder permalink
          February 24, 2011 8:56 pm

          I don’t think so, no.

        • Matt Bowman permalink
          February 24, 2011 11:14 pm

          Wow so, this bill does nothing that Kyle’s post accuses it of? Where is the correction, or even an update? Where is the “I take back the judgmental name calling I levelled against this particular prolife legislator and ‘anti abortion’ people in general”? A full frontal assault in the most spewing form possible: so, any correction of that attack? Or does the evil prolife movement deserve it anyway regardless of the facts?

        • brettsalkeld permalink*
          February 25, 2011 8:32 am

          Matt,
          If Kyle was prepared to nuance his position given new information, you have certainly given him a strong disincentive here. When you post, may I suggest trying to think about what will be effective rather than what best expresses your anger and disgust?

        • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
          February 24, 2011 11:26 pm

          The jury is still out, Matt, though I’m willing to reconsider and make an update in the event I change my mind. It does happen from time to time.

          I presently think it’s realistic to presume that a woman who’s miscarried might also feel (in addition to guilt) anxiety that she’ll be accused of or investigated for prenatal murder. I continue to hold that the language added to the bill concerning “prenatal murder,” combined with the old language about investigating officials, does potentially mean unjust and cruel treatment of women. But, I’m not legal expert, and I could be wrong.

        • Matt Bowman permalink
          February 25, 2011 8:40 am

          The code already says what you are complainig about. There is no “jury out”–You launched a mean attack, you have the burden to JUSTIFY your attack. And you can’t even point to language of your opponent that SUPPORTS YOUR CLAIM? You can’t argue how what the bill does connects to what you are upset about? Does charity and fairness not apply whn talking about prolifers?

        • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
          February 25, 2011 9:24 am

          I’ve revised the post to express the position I currently hold following Blackadder’s critiques. As I see it, the bill, as written, gives the government more reason to investigate miscarriages because it’s looking into whether or not a “prenatal murder” occurred. The bill makes a miscarriage a potential murder scene.

    • Thales permalink
      February 24, 2011 4:47 pm

      Phos,
      The new law also appears to more specifically define “pre-natal murder”. I suspect that is the purpose of the law, since that is something the law didn’t do already.

      gisher,
      Again, as I said, Kyle’s (and Fem.Philos)’s worries about reporting miscarriages are misplaced since that is the what the law requires currently. I know you have problems with the “life at conception” issue, but that addition doesn’t touch the reporting-miscarriages section (and I don’t know why it would affect it in practice).

      • February 24, 2011 5:36 pm

        Thales I just love Kyle just as much as I do you, and you have been known to fly off a tad once or twice before yourself (wink, wink). I must correct one thing though, my only problems with that bill as it stands are entirely legal.

        I must say anytime someone bumps the 1st amendment I always think of Catholics first. I am old enough to remember when the protestants hung us from trees. Even though the 1st stops a few things we would like to see, it does a real good job of keeping our feet on the ground now, so to speak.

        I like the sanctity of life for those that are already born too:)

        • Thales permalink
          February 24, 2011 10:59 pm

          and you have been known to fly off a tad once or twice before yourself
          I’m not sure what you’re referring to, gisher, but this is beside the point of the post.

        • February 24, 2011 11:15 pm

          That would be our first encounter on another thread where you misread my comment, or shall we say, scanned it too briefly:)

          I was addressing your comment above to Kyle for flying off willy nilly on this one.

  22. Thales permalink
    February 25, 2011 9:25 am

    I continue to hold that the language added to the bill concerning “prenatal murder,” combined with the old language about investigating officials, does potentially mean unjust and cruel treatment of women.

    Kyle, that might be a legitimate topic of conversation, but right now your main post doesn’t say that at all. Instead it repeats a bogus claim derived from FemPhil.’s hysterical overreaction to a complete non-issue, and which unfortunately is a meme that I’ve seen repeated elsewhere on the blogosphere.

    It’s hard to have a conversation on how to address abortion since BOTH sides of the abortion debate overreact sometimes. Honesty, humility, cool heads, and taking a deep breath before jumping to unwarranted conclusions — these are all extremely important for BOTH sides if we want to have an intelligent and productive conversation on abortion. And on this particular issue, it’s the pro-choice side that fell flat on its face.

    • Thales permalink
      February 25, 2011 9:41 am

      I created my previous comment before Kyle’s editing of the main post.

      But Kyle, even with your revision, I think you may be overreacting based on Fem.Phil’s hysterics. Again, the issue as you’ve described might be a legitimate topic of conversation (ie, whether the new law about “prenatal murder” might lead to inappropriate investigation into women’s personal lives). But consider the fact that this miscarriage-reporting is (1) the current law in Georgia, (2) is a standard procedure in other states, (3) may have some good purpose behind it, as Philip mentions above, and (4) that we haven’t heard that this kind of reporting leads to end of the world described by Fem.Phil. Are you still thinking that the bill is anti-woman and deserves unequivocal condemnation by pro-lifers?
      Are you still wanting to give up on the pro-life side forever? I’m just concerned that your contempt for the pro-life side on this issue is being colored by the complete misreading of the law by the pro-choice side.

      • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
        February 25, 2011 11:17 am

        Thales – As I mentioned above to Darwin, this post was rather knee-jerk, and the bill hasn’t really changed my views of the pro-life movement or the GOP generally. I still think the bill is a bad idea and yes, anti-women, and I’m thankful it won’t go anywhere.

        • Thales permalink
          February 25, 2011 12:32 pm

          I still think the bill is a bad idea and yes, anti-women.

          Kyle, the reason that you and the
          Fem.Phil. first thought the bill was bad was because it permitted miscarriage reporting. Then we established that miscarriage reporting apparently hadn’t lead to the parade of horribles that you thought would happen and we established that reporting might even be a good and pro-woman idea.

          So now you apparently think that that the current Georgia system of miscarriage reporting is fine, but that the language added to the bill will somehow negatively affect the currently-in-place miscarriage reporting standard and that its negative effect is so obvious that the legislation is anti-woman and deserves condemnation by all pro-lifers. Well, it’s not obvious to me: besides your speculation, I see no actual basis to think that such a negative effect to the current miscarriage reporting standard will occur.

          Look, if you have a problem with miscarriage reporting in general and if you think that miscarriage reporting is anti-woman, that’s fine. But that’s a separate argument, and you should try to make that argument. In fact, I’d very much like to hear a thoughtful articulation of that argument from you, because I think to most people, miscarriage reporting is not obviously anti-woman, is not obviously to be condemned unequivocally, and to the contrary, seems like a good idea. So please make that argument. But right now, your outrage that the Franklin bill is the last straw for you and is anti-woman and all pro-lifers should condemn it unequivocally, is in no way persuasive.

        • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
          February 25, 2011 5:07 pm

          It’s not simply miscarriage reporting that bothers me, though I have some reservations about such a policy whether or not a woman needs to show that her miscarriage didn’t result from human involvement and qualify as prenatal murder. I don’t think it just to ask a women who discovers a miscarriage at home to report it to the civil authorities–though she’d certainly be prudent to call a doctor.

          As I say below, I have a sense that a drive to investigate miscarriages would have stronger force powering it in a post-Roe world, where the impetus to enforce anti-abortion laws draws its energy and urgency from a bloody few decades of millions of legal abortions. There’s no way I can demonstrate that, though, as there exist no concrete examples. The bill hasn’t passed.

  23. February 25, 2011 11:16 am

    I once knew an unhappy woman, the wife of a NY City fireman, living in the Bronx, and an alcoholic. She got pregnant. She was told by her physician that she could not continue to drink alcoholically without harming the fetus. She continued to drink and eventually miscarried.
    So far as I know she did not “intentionally” want to terminate the pregnancy. She did, however, continue to drink after having been warned of the inevitable dire consequences. I would think that the miscarriage she brought on by her behavior would be analogous to a homicide caused by a drunk driver–if the fetus had legal status as a “person.”
    I think that there may have been actual attempts to prosecute women under similar circumstances. (?) I don’t know if those prosecutions ended in convictions.
    In this case, I guess the charge would not be first-degree murder, but perhaps “negligent homicide” or even second-degree murder. But it is neither, if the fetus does not enjoy constitutional rights as a “person.” I see the proposed legislationin question here as rightwing grandstanding. There is no reason to take it seriously at this time.

    • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
      February 25, 2011 5:11 pm

      It’s possible the alcohol caused this miscarriage, but can anyone really know. She may have miscarried in any case. This captures one reason why I find the idea of investigating miscarriages troubling.

  24. Blackadder permalink
    February 25, 2011 11:20 am

    If I may expand on my previous answer to Kyle.

    Kyle says that he remains uncomfortable with the bill because it “makes a miscarriage a potential murder scene.” I do not find such concerns realistic.

    Why assume that the law would be enforced in such a strained and insensitive manner? Did the sort of thing you are suggesting happen back when abortion was illegal? No. Does it happen now under the current investigation requirements (which, it bears repeating, the bill does not change)? No. Are the people who conduct these investigations a bunch of callous Comstocks, eager to investigate women’s miscarriages in order to uncover hidden abortions? If so, then that seems like a problem that requires solving whether or not the bill ends up passing.

    • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
      February 25, 2011 4:59 pm

      I don’t imagine the people conducting investigations would be any more or less callous than people generally. What worries me, perhaps unrealistically, is that a contemporary drive to uncover hidden abortions would result in unjust treatment of women who have experienced miscarriages. Again, I may be wrong, but I have a sense that such a drive would have stronger force powering it in a post-Roe world, where the impetus to enforce anti-abortion laws draws its energy and urgency from a bloody few decades of millions of legal abortions.

      • Blackadder permalink
        February 25, 2011 5:56 pm

        Kyle,

        The bill in question can’t overturn Roe v. Wade.

        And I don’t mean that as a nitpick; it’s actually an important point. If your objection is with what would happen in a post-Roe world, then the problem is not with this or that provision of a particular bill, but with the whole idea of overturning Roe in the first place.

        Obviously I don’t believe for a second that’s what you mean, but it appears to be the logical implication of what you are saying here.

        • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
          February 25, 2011 6:18 pm

          I was unclear. I mean by a post-Roe world a setting in which abortion has been legal and resulted in millions of legal but nevertheless immoral deaths. We live in a post-Roe world now, in that it is a world that has come about after the SCOTUS decision. The way we think about abortion today is different than before Roe in that we today have a hell of a lot more blood on our hands.

    • February 25, 2011 6:05 pm

      BA,

      Back when abortion was illegal, it wasn’t murder. There are ramifications to recognizing full humanity and personhood beginning at the moment of conception. You no longer have just a pregnant woman any more. You have a woman with a person inside of her. It’s a new situation being brought upon us by the pro-life “fetal rights” movement. The law has not dealt with persons inside of persons before. I don’t think Kyle’s concerns are unreasonable. When you claim that personhood begins at conception, a miscarriage isn’t just a miscarriage any more. It’s potentially a homicide. What if the woman hasn’t been taking care of her health the way she should have?

      • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
        February 25, 2011 6:21 pm

        I don’t have the background in the history of the legal definition of unborn human life to be able to verify that this point is correct, but, assuming you are, it gets at what I mean by a post-Roe world. We’re not simply trying to return to a pre-Roe legal world, but establish even stronger protections of nascent human life.

  25. February 25, 2011 2:57 pm

    I’m sure there are those who will think this an overly partisan or suspicious comment, but I think that this discussion underlines some of the difficulties of relying overmuch on pro-choice sources when commenting on whether or not the pro-life movement is behaving badly in some particular way.

    In this case, it appears that Feminist Philosopher took this bill (because it bans abortion and seeks to replace the legal term “pregnancy termination” with “fetal murder” in existing laws) and ran with it in a direction not warranted by the bill — introducing the frequently voiced pro-choice fear that pro-lifers want to turn women into incubators and watch over them constantly in an invasive fashion because they only care about unborn children and not about women. The pro-choice author thus envisions a CSI: Pre-Born type scenario in which heartless policemen would quiz devastated post-miscarriage women.

    Now, I think the bill is an obvious mis-step from the pro-life perspective because it tries to take too big a step too quickly and at the wrong time — it’s arguments for why Roe v. Wade should not hold in Georgia would, I think, be quickly reject and this would make it harder for better pro-life legislation down the road.

    However, the actual thing the bill is being accused of (unleashing heartless investigators on women who have just lost their babies) does not appear to be something contained in the bill at all. In this respect, it has even less substance than the “death panels” which were widely ridiculed as a right-wing scare tactic. (Here at least there was an actual change in the law, though not necessarily one of the sort that Palin and others imagined.)

    One possible lesson one might draw from this is that when, on a pro-choice site, one reads about some horrible thing that pro-lifers are doing, it will often turn out to be (whether intentionally or not) an untruth.

    • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
      February 25, 2011 5:08 pm

      Does this make me the pro-choice sources’ useful idiot? ;-)

  26. Thales permalink
    February 25, 2011 10:32 pm

    I guess I’m still at a loss why Kyle remains so outraged at the bill and thinks it so obvious that the bill is anti-woman and deserves unequivocal condemnation from the pro-life movement.

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