Georgia Republican Introduces Anti-Abortion Bill That Could Criminalize Miscarriages

February 23, 2011 3:25 pm ET — Meredith Kormes

In an attempt to outlaw abortion, Georgia State Rep. Bobby Franklin (R) has introduced a bill that could also criminalize miscarriages and give full personhood rights to a fetus at conception. The bill also amps up the rhetoric around this issue by altering several terms — such as replacing the words "product of human conception" and with "prenatal human person," and changing "induced termination of pregnancy" to "prenatal murder."

The bill defines "prenatal murder" as:

...the intentional removal of a fetus from a woman with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus; provided, however, that 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 prenatal murder. Such term does not included 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.

One of the many problems in this bill is that there is no explanation or definition in the bill as to what constitutes "human involvement." As Mother Jones explains:

The bill, however, shows an astonishing lack of concern for women's health and well-being. Under Rep. Franklin's bill, HB 1, women who miscarry could become felons if they cannot prove that there was "no human involvement whatsoever in the causation" of their miscarriage. There is no clarification of what "human involvement" means, and this is hugely problematic as medical doctors do not know exactly what causes miscarriages. Miscarriages are estimated to terminate up to a quarter of all pregnancies and the Mayo Clinic says that "the actual number is probably much higher because many miscarriages occur so early in pregnancy that a woman doesn't even know she's pregnant. Most miscarriages occur because the fetus isn't developing normally."

Holding women criminally liable for a totally natural, common biological process is cruel and non-sensical.

This year has already seen several anti-abortion and anti-woman pieces of legislation, but this bill goes far beyond the others by stating that Georgia is exempt from upholding the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, and that the state has determined that life begins at the moment of conception and is duty-bound to protect all life from that moment until natural death.

UPDATE: Rep. Franklin is the same state legislator that recently introduced a bill to change Georgia's criminal code to refer to rape, stalking and domestic violence victims as "accusers" rather than victims.