"(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
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
"The State of Georgia has the duty to protect all innocent life from the
moment of conception until natural death."
"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
"A fetus is a person for all purposes under the laws of this state from the
moment of conception."
"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."
"Any person performing an abortion in this state shall be guilty of a felony."
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
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
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
A 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.
In 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:
They might be considered, along with the physician, as a member of a
conspiracy to commit a felony.
They might be considered accomplices of the physician in the
performance of a felony.
The 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.
The staff and patients of in-vitro fertility clinics could conceivably
be charged under this bill if it were to become law.
A 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
Sometimes 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
This bill appears to criminalize these procedures.
Implications for Georgia lawmakers:
This bill places Georgia legislators in an awkward position:
If they vote against the bill, then they would lose the support of many of
the voters in the next election.
If 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
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.
Reactions to the bill:
Rep. 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
Jerry 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
Rep. 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
Rep. 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
Rep. 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
Rep. 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
LifeNews.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