Business Casual: Scary Times At The Capitol

So State Rep. Bobby Franklin from Marietta introduced yet another version this year of his annual attempt to criminalize abortion. What else is new? Well, HB 1 would not only prohibit abortion, but would require any woman who suffers a miscarriage to “prove” to state authorities that what she experienced was a real miscarriage and not actually an abortion in disguise.

Friends and family members would be required to assist the authorities in their pursuit of this information.

The bill would make it a felony for anyone committing “prenatal murder,” Franklin’s term for abortion done for any reason, even to save the life of the mother.

Presumably, in addition to making felons of the mother and the doctor performing any sort of procedure that ended in termination, the measure could lead to charges of “conspiracy to commit prenatal murder” against others who might have aided and abetted them. A neighbor who drives the woman to the doctor’s office or emergency room could be in trouble.

I know, I know. The bill didn’t pass. Didn’t even come close. And Capitol watchers – of all political stripes – shake their heads and roll their eyes when the bill is mentioned, and they remind you that Franklin introduces such legislation every year and it never gets out of committee. (He has also introduced a bill requiring that all state transactions be carried out in gold or silver and another one eliminating drivers’ licenses.)

The precious metals and drivers’ license bills are patently ridiculous, even laughable; but the prevailing notion that Franklin is a harmless zealot is letting him off too easily.

Yet another Franklin bill would change the wording from rape “victim” to rape “accuser.” That exhibits an appalling ignorance and insensitivity to a brutal crime.

Another thing that’s a little different this year is that Franklin’s legislative filings are getting considerable national attention in blogs, online newsletters and social media.

And if the legislation itself doesn’t make you cringe, which it should, the “Oh, yeah, that’s Georgia, what do you expect?” nature of some of the responses will sting. Franklin is not some random blogger sitting in his pajamas and scowling into a computer screen in his mother’s back bedroom.

He is an elected official of the state of Georgia.

Is he really representing the interests and values of his state and his constituents? Does anybody actually believe a woman who has suffered a miscarriage deserves to be treated like a criminal? Is there no room in Franklin’s belief system for compassion?

Apparently he thinks an anti-abortion bill that punishes women who are already suffering a sad loss will be more palatable to his legislative colleagues. But that isn’t true.

I’m making the assumption that Rep. Franklin has never had the sobering experience of trying to console a friend or loved one after a miscarriage. Perhaps some of his colleagues have.

Under terms of his bill, I could easily be a felon. Some years ago, a very shaken friend called me to say she thought she had just miscarried. She had not even known she was pregnant. Her husband was on his way home to take her to the doctor. Could I come to the house to be there when her children got home from school? I rushed right over.

While I waited, I cleaned up the aftermath of her miscarriage, fearing it would be frightening for her children to see. In Rep. Franklin’s world, that would doubtless be considered destroying evidence and make me a co- conspirator.

I understand the position of those who oppose abortion, but HB 1 goes way beyond opposition. It all but creates what some critics are calling the Uterus Police. I don’t like the idea of clipboard-wielding “authorities” interrogating family members – children, perhaps – about mom’s trip to the doctor.

And the truth is, if this bill ever passed, it would not stop abortions: It would simply stop safe and legal ones in Georgia. Women who have resources and want abortions could still get them safely by going out of state. Women without resources could get them, too, but not safely.

Aren’t we better than this?

Categories: Business Casual