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PROPOSED ANTI-ABORTION LAW:

GEORGIA, 2005

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Sponsored link.

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Quotation:

bullet"(b)(2) 'Fetus' means a person at any point of development from and including the moment of conception through the moment of birth....
(c) The practice of abortion 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 performing an abortion in this state shall be guilty of a felony...
" GA House Bill 93 1

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Overview:

Representative Bobby Franklin, (R-Marietta) of the Georgia Legislature submitted a bill to the Georgia House in 2002 which would have criminalized almost all abortions in the state. 2 It failed to become law. On 2005-JAN-25, he introduced a revised anti-abortion bill: House Bill 93.

It states, in part:

bullet"The State of Georgia has the duty to protect all innocent life from the moment of conception until natural death."
bullet"After three decades of legal human abortion, it is now abundantly clear that the practice has negatively impacted the people of this state in many ways, including economic, health, physical, psychological, emotional and medical well-being."
bullet"A fetus is a person for all purposes under the laws of this state from the moment of conception."
bullet"The practice of abortion has caused the citizens of this state an inestimable amount economically, including ... a significant reduction of the tax base and of the availability of workers, entrepreneurs, teachers, employees and employers that would have significantly contributed to the prosperity of this state."
bullet"Any person performing an abortion in this state shall be guilty of a felony." 3

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Implications of the bill for citizens of Georgia:

If the bill becomes law, almost all abortions would be criminalized in the state, including those to terminate pregnancies caused by rape or incest, or which will injure or disable the woman. However, the bill does include one exclusion. Many news reports indicate that the bill would not criminalize the performance of an abortion if it is needed to save the woman's life. However, the situation is not that simple. 

The bill provides a unique definition for the term "abortion:"  "...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 an abortion." Note that the physician would have to try to save the life of both the woman and the fetus. Presumably, if a pregnancy went terribly wrong and a woman was dying, this bill might imply that her physician would commit a criminal act by terminating the pregnancy. He or she would have to try to save the life of both the mother and the fetus in order to be certain of escaping prosecution. However, some abortion procedures do not and/or can not include an effort to to save the life of the fetus. To do so may be an impossibility in some cases. The physician might have to choose between allowing both the woman and fetus to die, or risk the penalties under the law which include a felony charge, cancellation of her/his license, and a long jail sentence.

Problem pregnancies which threaten the life of the woman do arise in cases of entopic pregnancies, therapeutic abortions, uterine cancer, and perhaps others. More details. It is not clear whether Rep. Franklin is unaware of the long-term effects of his bill in increasing the maternal death rate, if it were to become law.

Other implications:

bulletA physician who is merely suspected of committing a abortion, and is indicted, would have her/his license suspended until "resolution of the matter." That is, a physician is considered guilty until proven innocent. The trial might take take years to complete. In the meantime, the physician would be not be able to practice medicine.
bulletIn addition to abortion providers being charged with a felony, the status of the woman patient and the staff at the abortion clinic abortion is unclear. It is obvious that an abortion could not be performed without the involvement and consent of the pregnant woman, and the assistance of clinic staff. So, they might be indicted along with the physician:
bulletThey might be considered, along with the physician, as a member of a conspiracy to commit a felony.
bulletThey might be considered accomplices of the physician in the performance of a felony.
bulletThe bill defines a pre-embryo to be a person from the instance of conception. A woman might have engaged in sexual intercourse without contraception, or the couple might have used a condom which broke. She might decide to obtain emergency contraception -- often called the "morning after pill" -- in order to avoid becoming pregnant. This medication can prevent pregnancy by suppressing ovulation or preventing conception. In those cases, this bill would not apply. However, if conception has already occurred, the pill would probably prevent the fertilized ovum from being implanted in the wall of the uterus and starting a pregnancy. According to the bill, the pre-embryo is considered a person from "the moment of conception." By taking the pills, she might be considered to be responsible for the "intentional termination of human pregnancy." Although pregnancy according to medical science begins at implantation, religious and social conservatives generally regard it as beginning at conception. Thus, the woman might be considered as "performing an abortion," and be charged with a felony.
bulletThe staff and patients of in-vitro fertility clinics could conceivably be charged under this bill if it were to become law.
bulletA common procedure is to harvest and fertilize over a dozen embryos, and implant a few of them in the woman's uterus. The rest are discarded or frozen. Either way, according to the definition of pregnancy used by many religious and social conservatives, over a dozen pregnancies would be started. The bill would require that all of the pre-embryos lives be saved.
bulletSometimes most or all of the implanted embryos develop. Instead of producing a single pregnancy, the woman may be pregnant with four, five or even more embryos. Sometimes, the woman decides to abort one or more of the embryos in order to prevent a miscarriage which would cause them all to die. Alternatively, she might decide to abort some embryos in order to allow the others to have a chance of being born without severe disabilities.

This bill appears to criminalize these procedures.

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Implications for Georgia lawmakers:

This bill places Georgia legislators in an awkward position:

bulletIf they vote against the bill, then they would lose the support of many of the voters in the next election.
bulletIf they vote for the bill, then they would be violating their oath of office, which requires them to support the U.S. constitution. In the Roe v. Wade decision, the U.S. supreme Court ruled that the constitution contains a privacy concept that guarantees women free access to early abortions. This bill would terminate this right. It is clearly unconstitutional and will remain so until the Court becomes much more conservative -- an expected event during the presidency of George W. Bush.

This essay continues below.

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Reactions to the bill:

bulletRep. Franklin appears to realize that the bill has little chance of becoming law.  He said: "I know things will be going slow, but it’s out there. Maybe we’ll have a shot at it. Maybe some other states will take a shot at it.....If you don't have hope, you don't have any business being up here." 4,5
bulletJerry Keen (R-St. Simon’s Isl.), who is the House Majority Leader and former head of the Georgia Christian Coalition, said: "Obviously, that’s not a bill we’re going to be taking up. "Even if I don’t always agree with the Supreme Court, they are the highest authority and we have to respect it." Apparently referring to the proposed "Women's Right to Know" -- a bill which would require women to wait for a 24 hour 'cooling-off' interval before being eligible to have an abortion -- he said: "We’ll address what we can address." 4
bulletRep. Mike Coan, (R-Lawrenceville), who is a co-signer of the bill, said: "In all honesty, I think it's more of a position statement. Just being practical, I don't see it happening anytime soon." 5
bulletRep. DuBose Porter, (D-Dublin), who is the House Democratic Leader, said: "The problem is, it's misleading to voters to pretend we can ban abortion here. Whether we personally agree or not, the Supreme Court has said it's legal. And I think when you get into cases like rape or incest there's a lot of people who think it should be up to the woman on that." 5
bulletRep. Lester Jackson, (D-Savannah) said: "Once again we see how far right certain legislators are and now they're coming out of the woodwork and showing their true nature....[The bill] is something that really hurts the well-being of women. We should be in a posture, as legislators, of helping our constituents, not hurting them." 6
bulletRep. Rob Teilhet, (D-Cobb Cty) said: "This is just extreme and irresponsible. It's flagrantly unconstitutional, and I'm just not sure what the point is....[Georgians] should ask themselves if they want legislators who propose legislation to make a point or if they propose a bill that really is about making life better." 7
bulletLifeNews.com suggests that Georgia: "lawmakers acknowledge the bill has little chance of passing and say such a ban would fail in court until the Supreme Court's membership changes." 8

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References used:

  1. The text of the bill is online at: http://www.legis.state.ga.us/
  2. "Another Nutcase in GA: State Rep. Bobby Franklin (R)," extracted from Yahoo! News by Godlike Productions, 2002-DEC-14, at: http://www.godlikeproductions.com/
  3. "Excerpts from an abortion ban proposed Tuesday," The Associated Press, 2005-JAN-25, at: http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/
  4. Tom Crawford, "Franklin Bill Would Outlaw All Abortions," CapitolImpact.com, 2005-JAN-25, at:  http://www.prochoicega.org/
  5. Kristen Wyatt, "Abortion ban highlights struggle for new GOP leadership," Tallahassee Democrat, 2005-JAN-25, at: http://www.tallahassee.com/
  6. Brian Basinger, "GOP leaders shoot down abortion ban," Savannah Morning News, 2005-JAN-25, at: http://savannahnow.com/
  7. "Lawmaker's bill outlaws abortion. Georgia Republican introduces legislation against party's wishes," WorldNetDaily™, 2005-JAN-27, at: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/
  8. Steven Ertelt, "Georgia Lawmaker Proposes Abortion Ban, Right to Know Bill More Likely," LifeNews.com, 2005-JAN-27, at: http://lifenews.com/state859.html

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Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" religious topics > Abortion > Laws > here

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Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2005-FEB-02
Latest update: 2005-FEB-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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