Kent Pitman

Kent Pitman
New England, USA
Philosopher, Technologist, Writer
I've been using the net in various roles—technical, social, and political—for the last 30 years. I'm disappointed that most forums don't pay for good writing and I'm ever in search of forums that do. (I've not seen any Tippem money, that's for sure.) And I worry some that our posting here for free could one day put paid writers in Closed Salon out of work. See my personal home page for more about me.


Editor’s Pick
JULY 3, 2011 2:04PM

Prenatal Murder and Unjustified Miscarriages

Rate: 27 Flag

Earlier this year, Republican State Representative Bobby Franklin placed a bill before the Georgia General Assembly that attempts to empower and require the state to intervene in what the bills refers to as “prenatal murder.” The bill, Georgia House Bill 1, begins with this summary (bold mine for emphasis):

A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend the Official Code of Georgia Annotated so as to provide that prenatal murder shall be unlawful in all events and to remove numerous references to such procedures; to amend Title 16, relating to crimes and offenses, so as to make certain findings of fact; to define certain terms; to provide that any prenatal murder shall be unlawful; to provide a penalty; to repeal certain exceptions to certain offenses; to provide for severability; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

This matter of the bill making “findings of fact” is something I find very disturbing. As an example, the bill simply states outright that “because a fetus is a person, constitutional protection attaches at the moment of conception.” The bill goes on from there to assert a consequential state mandate to protect such “innocent life.”

The bill, which explicitly rejects Roe v. Wade “or any other case pertaining to a state's punishment of the crime of prenatal murder,” is full of not just extreme assertions but self-conscious attempts to justify them by citing history and precedents, as if it's aware it would see a court challenge and would prefer to argue the case in the bill itself. Any summary I would make could be challenged as not capturing it properly, so I suggest clicking through and either reading or just skimming the text. But I will offer just a few more quotations (again, bold mine):

(25) The act of prenatal murder is murder and conspiracy to commit murder per se;
(26) The act of prenatal murder has caused a significant reduction in the number of citizens in this state who would serve as workers, entrepreneurs, teachers, employees, and employers who would have significantly contributed to the prosperity and continuation of this state; and
(27) The failure to prosecute a violation of this Code section is a violation of the obligation of this state to provide all of its citizens with an equal protection of the laws.

No mention is made of the terribly difficult choices women are forced to make in the face of their own ill health or the possible ill health or deformity of a fetus, the possibility of a baby being born into an economically or socially challenged family situation, if any family at all. All Georgia abortions occur in Lake Wobegon, Georgia, where pregnancies, if carried to term, would result in women who would be strong, men who would be good looking, and children who would be above average. It's hard to generalize because each circumstance is individual and personal, which is why I believe abortion should be a personal decision left to the pregnant woman without state meddling, but clearly this business of “making certain findings of fact” is stretched beyond all reasonableness in the outlandish claims of Item 26 above.

The document spends a considerable amount of text editing other legislation to remove any reference to abortions as health care procedures. As examples, at one point it replaces “product of human conception” with “prenatal human person,” and in another it replaces “induced termination of pregnancy” with “prenatal murder.” It also removes “induced termination of pregnancy” from a list of vital statistics that can be reported to the state registrar under an absolute privacy privilege that prevents any cause of action against the discloser. And it establishes these definitions:

As used in this Code section, the term:
(1) 'Fetus' means a person at any point of development from and including the moment of conception through the moment of birth. Such term includes all medical or popular designations of an unborn child from the moment of conception such as conceptus, zygote, embryo, homunculus, and similar terms.
(2) 'Prenatal murder' means 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 include 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.

At this point it won't surprise you that this bill requires that a person accused of “prenatal murder” will have their license immediately suspended “until resolution of the matter,” and that, upon conviction, that person would “be punished as provided in subsection (d) of Code Section 16-5-1,” that is, “death or imprisonment for life.”

Okay, so this legislation is proposed, but will it pass? It's hard to know. I'd guess it won't, but these things are never a certainty and certainly bear watching.

Republicans planning to run for office are asked to take pro-life pledges. For example, several 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates have signed the Pro-Life Citizen's Pledge created by the controversially-named Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List. Signers of that particular pledge agree to, among other things, “advance and sign into law a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.”

Because of this trend toward swearing allegiance not only to the flag but to a series of partisan pledges, many of the statements I and many others find objectionable in this legislation are ones I don't think you'll find many Republican leaders willing to stand up and oppose. Doing so is, in effect, political suicide since signing onto this kind of agenda is pretty much a litmus test issue for Republican Party loyalty. And, given that, when pieces of legislation like this are proposed, they are often treated with surprising reverence since Republican “leaders” feel obliged to carry through on their pledges.

And beyond that, even just the presence of extreme legislation like this in the field of discussion gives cover for other legislation that is still extreme, yet perhaps not as extreme. Suddenly the less extreme legislation may be referred to as “moderate” and the entire discussion becomes distorted.

Ever-Changing Fields of Battle

This whole issue is back in the news recently as an article in Think Progress recently reports on prosecutions brought in Alabama under the state's “chemical endangerment” law against women who miscarried and had previously used drugs, even where there was no evidence the drug use caused the miscarriage.

Fetal homicide laws exist in 38 of 50 states. They were were originally introduced to protect pregnant women from abuse, but in a number of those states the emerging practice has been for pro-life prosecutors to use such laws against women who have suffered the loss of a pregnancy, asking them to prove that the loss was not a fetal homicide. The National Conference of State Legislatures maintains summaries of those laws and related case law.

Original intent is apparently not a concern for such legislation, which was never originally intended for the purpose of prosecuting women who lose pregnancies. But original intent only matters for the Constitution, I guess—Conservative courts are free to creatively reinterpret legislative intent without fear of being branded as judicial activists, and without losing their right to claim they are originalists.

Meanwhile, in Kansas, a very different approach is recently being taken to curtailing reproductive rights for women—burying the clinics in arbitrary administrative requirements. New regulations establish acceptable temperature ranges and minimum sizes of various rooms in a clinic. According to Peter Brownlie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, “These rules go way beyond what's necessary for a safe, frequently-performed procedure. There are other kinds of surgeries done without these regulations that carry a much higher risk.” Rather, the regulations seem clearly to have been chosen arbitrarily in such a way as to preclude the continued operation of existing clinics. Although a federal judge has blocked implementation of the new law, the law was rushed into effect with unusual speed in order to minimize chances that clinics would have time to respond to the to the rules. Similar red tape tactics have been used in Virginia.

The Big Picture

It's amazing that the Republican Party can speak with a straight face about reducing the size and scope of government at one moment and yet talk about expanding government's intrusion into these very private and personal issues. Recent moves to deliberately increase regulatory loads on abortion clinics shows that there is really no substance to Republican claims that they take a principled approach to small government. Rather, it exposes a desire to simply pursue an agenda that fires up their base enough to get them to the polls and then to justify it after-the-fact by whatever inconsistent argument sounds good at the moment. To me, it seems pretty transparently Machiavellian.

And while it's all done in the name of what is portrayed as a noble quest, usually portrayed as “the saving of innocent life,” it's hard to see what the point is because as soon as that innocent life is born, the Republicans seem quite willing to cut support for health care affecting children, including support for Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP, previously known as SCHIP) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

H.R. 1683, the “State Flexibility Act,” introduced in May of this year, proposes to repeal Medicaid and CHIP maintenance of effort (MOE) requirements on states. As an analysis at Kathryn Baer's “Poverty & Policy” blog aptly sums things up, “Everyone agrees that rising health care costs are major drivers of the long-term projected deficit. But new controls on Medicare spending are contentious – and politically dicey, as House Republicans are swiftly learning. So, the thinking goes, negotiators might agree to set them aside and repeal the Medicaid MOE requirements [on states] instead. So much easier to compromise when the cuts would harm only low-income people.

The story is the same for WIC, where the Republican-controlled House voted recently to cut funding from $6.7B to $6B, a difference of $733 million affecting 300,000 to 450,000 eligible low-income women and young children next year. This difference seems especially significant since Eric Cantor recently walked out of talks on raising the debt limit because of a suggestion that tax deductions might be removed for corporate jets. The Rachel Maddow Show (June 29, 2011) quotes a statement issued by Eric Cantor's office that says “the corporate jet loophole that he was talking about only amounts to about $2 billion.” (The actual amount is $3 billion, but really—who's counting?) Even two billion is almost three times the amount that they wanted to cut from WIC. And yet they felt comfortable referring to it as “only” two billion.

Incredibly, if the Republican leadership is to be taken seriously, the US doesn't have $733M to help hundreds of thousands of low-income women and children, but we have three times that much to subsidize rich corporate executives flying around in style. Well, if the Republicans want us to believe money is speech, I guess we can hear loud and clear what they're saying about their priorities for caring about the already-born.

Republicans seem really to believe that we are not all in this together. Their behavior suggests they see the US as a sinking ship, in which they are rightly engaged in a kind of lifeboat ethics, deciding who will be saved and who are the acceptable casualties. For them there are just too many people for us all to fit in the lifeboat, and yet never too many people to ever think that any pregnancy should ever not be carried to term.

Republicans are willing to incorporate as a matter of stipulated fact in the laws they write that aborted human fetuses would, if only they were allowed to be carried to term, significantly contribute to the prosperity and continuation of this state. And yet, they're not willing to give the same benefit of the doubt to actual, real, already-born people. The entire premise for their not thinking we're able to afford universal health care, for example, is that there is a large base of our population who cannot be relied upon to be pull their own weight economically. Am I the only one who sees a fundamental inconsistency in these two views?

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A broad subject with no easy answers Kent. I read the bill since it is from my home state of Georgia and what they propose to do is chilling...And this subject is close to my heart since I had a toxic pregnancy that the doctors begged me to end and yet I did not.
If a woman gets a toxic pregnancy such as the one I had, she can easily die from carrying the child to term. The idea that the state of pregnancy can be a killer is a shock and little understood part of this. How a law can be justified that will kill is beyond me....
Even if passed I doubt it will stand for review....
And that reply is only part of this post.
Mission, yep, it's a huge issue. The more I googled around, though, the more obvious it was that there are a lot of these movements in many states and in many different forms. It needs watching. Thanks for offering your comments.
No you're not the only one who sees that inconsistency but I desperately hope there are many more than just the two of us who do. What is wrong with these legislators and the people who support them - are they all taking crazy pills? Am I wrong in assuming there no bigger, more pressing problems facing Americans than unwanted pregnancies?

Last month in Ohio, the House voted to pass the so-called "heartbeat bill" that bans a woman from having an abortion after a heartbeat is detected, which is possible only four weeks after conception. A fetus "testified" in favor of it. If the Senate passes it, Ohio will have an almost total ban on abortion since most women don't even know they're pregnant at four weeks.

This would be hysterically funny if it wasn't so frightening. These strict anti-abortion proposals have absolutely nothing to do with protecting life as you point out. They're just the cornerstone of an extreme, fundamentalist Christian agenda, part of a relentless campaign to dismantle reasonable laws and protections while stripping the rights of individuals.. They want to remake this country into a place for "some," not for "all." And the most disturbing thing is, they're succeeding.
Well written, Kent. You asked and answered all your questions, so I can add nothing, but that I benefited from reading this post and its links.
Hi, Margaret. Thanks for commenting. Yes, that issue of when the woman even knows she's pregnant is a line they're surely seeking to deliberately cross. Frightening indeed, not just for the human rights issue (see my post I'm Not Pro-Slavery, Are You? for more on that) but for the population aspect. We're running out of resources and we really need to think more carefully about how to keep our use in check but unless we want each generation to have proportionally less available, we need to seriously get population under control.
dianaani, that's okay—it's good just to know you were here and got something from the read. No detailed comment required.

It's kind of people to be showing up for something as heavyweight of this on a holiday weekend. I'm sure there are more fun things to do, and I realized too late this was probably a bad time to put it up. But for me, a long weekend like this is the only time I have to actually write this kind of thing. Some of the research took a fair bit of time. (The quote from Cantor was hard to source reliably since it occurs many places anecdotally and it took a while to get a source I believed.) It took basically all day yesterday until late into the night to put this together.
As with my rape post, the abortion issue triggers many emotions and many responses -- and all too many of those emotions/responses are the direct result of a guilt ridden god-centered philosophy. Too often of late I find myself fearful of the influence religion plays in legislation on state and national levels. In fact, I've grown so fearful of organized religion and its hold on a large portion of the population that the mere offering of "God bless you" when I sneeze makes me cringe.

As a woman, I must support a female's right to control over her own body. I must support every individuals right to control over their own body, male and female, whether we are talking about breast implants, tattoos and studs or abortion. To be prevented this basic right is to invite a rekindling of the slave/owner mentality.

Truthfully, I just cannot understand understand why abortion is necessary when so many other less intrusive, less harmful, less painful methods of birth control are possible, but again, it's not up to me to question why someone chose not to use a condom or IUD or whatever.

In cases of rape, one of the first questions asked at the hospital is whether the victim is using birth control. Then, even if the answer is affirmative, she is usually given the morning after pill to guarantee that any possibility of conception is eliminated. I guess the anti-abortion people would still consider this precautionary measure an abortion of sorts. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

Regardless of what my personal decision would be if faced with an unwanted pregnancy, it is not up to me or anyone else to tell another woman what to do. We live and die by the decisions we make. We should not have to live and die by the decisions someone else makes for us, especially one as personal as abortion.

We need to make free contraceptives available to everyone and, we need to preach from the very beginnings of puberty that "safe sex is the only sex." Remove shame. Remove embarrassment. Accept that we are sexual beings. Teach personal responsibility and -- provide condoms!

Again it is the religious minded who foolishly believe that abstinence can be accomplished by putting the fear of eternal damnation into their children. When it comes to a choice between a few minutes of ecstasy and an eternity in hell, ecstasy wins every time.

Sorry, I didn't mean to rant on and on. Some issues ...
well, just some issues...
Donna, thanks for visiting and for raising your issues. My writings run long, so I'm not going to complain that your comment did. It's all on-topic, after all. I appreciate that.

You might or might not be aware of the Conceived in Rape Tour. (Rachel Maddow mentions it at position 5:00 in this video if you want more on it.)

One point about birth control is that most forms are not 100% effective, so it's not always true that someone who gets pregnant didn't take precautions. That's probably mostly true. But there are exceptions and I think it's good not to leap to conclusions.

Your comment on failed birth control is, indeed, true. My statement was a generalization -- perhaps too much so.

Thanks for the link. I watched. I'm scared. We should all be scared -- very, very scared.
You do us a favor with these posts...and they should be published more widely. We here are, after all, mostly The Choir.

One of the things that baffles me is that the get-government-out-of-our-lives people are the ones who want to make government get into our lives, like... Quite orwellian. I guess the Christian fundy idea of freedom is to be the freedom to be a slave to God. Except, hallelujah, the slave gets to say what God wants, God never making an appearance...
As you may remember, I have been involved in the fight for reproductive freedom most of my adult life (or more than 30 years.)
A post like this accomplishes many things, not the least of which is to remind women that we depend on and appreciate ment like you so willing to join us in that battle in such a brilliant and thoughtful way. I am in your debt for this post and I thank you...for my daughter and my granddaughter as well. Rated with pride.
Myriad, I distinguish between church and religion. Religion I think of a merely the thoughtful contemplation of philosophical questions. That's something one can do without being enslaved. But Church sometimes has additional motives, which may include being power brokers and controlling things this way or that. So, in that light, yes, slavery is a concern. And hence my other article I mentioned to Margaret earlier, I Am Not Pro-Slavery, Are You?

A friend opined to me privately today that really what they want is the right to control, and that while it's about telling you to have babies today, another day it might be the opposite, that they might just as well tell you they have the right to tell you otherwise, but that the common thread is that they'll be in control. Ben Bova makes a similar observation in his many science fiction novels. A common thread is the New Morality, which in his novels are actually restrictive of who can have kids, but and they want to be the ones to decide. It's such a turnaround from what happens now, and yet it flows seamlessly. You can easily see people being that way, and blaming it on God.
Mary Ann, I'm glad you appreciated the post. In my opinion, this is misclassified as a “women's issue.” The issue of family planning affects us all. Pregnancies, whether wanted or unwanted, are the product of both men and women. And basic human rights, including the right of self-determination, should be something that matters to all people. I'm glad to do my part.
Seer, thanks for the thoughts. Yeah, dark indeed.
I have nothing but contempt for the Christian fundamentalists and the anti-abortion crowd in general. They talk about reducing the size of government, except when it comes to people's personal lives. And this ban on abortion for religious reasons makes about as much sense as bans on blood transfusions( if the Jehovah's Witnesses had the political clout) or seeing a doctor in general (if the Christian Scientists were all powerful).
Lefty, that's the issue. There are so many axes that people have to grind from their respective places. It's wrong to think there is a least common denominator that we all agree on. And yet, it's likewise wrong to suggest that the groups that disagree are all without morals. Hard as it is to understand, morality differs. And in a pluralism, we need to respect that. Also, this notion that we need to change definitions of things after-the-fact should tell us that “original intent” is not in play; if it were, it wouldn't require rewriting so much text. Well, I'm just repeating myself from the article I guess. :)
Disturbing to say the least. Enforcing these bills would be impossible without pissing on the Constitution.

LadyMiko, if you pull up the Georgia bill you'll see there is a lot of verbiage devoted to “proving” that this is a state matter, not a federal one. They ramble away about Marbury v. Madison and how it isn't maritime law and all kinds of odd topics in getting to their point, which is that they basically wanted to go one by one through all the things people might say made it a federal matter and then refute that. I'm not saying those things will hold up. But I am saying that the bill suggests a willingness to make a fuss on a great many issues. So I guess we'll see how it plays out. Thanks for stopping by.
Kent- there is just way too much going on here for there to be one or even just a handful of coherent "arguments". The very mention of missing workers (like the missing girls and missing blacks argument) completely ignores those that are alive and already disenfranchised from rights. I find it interesting that an unborn and therefore theoretical person has more rights than a born and living person. But, those who use the word "innocent" live in a fantasy world where babies are only conceived through God's plan.
Margaret Atwood predicted so much of what has come to pass these past two years in her book, A Handmaid's Tale. I read it about twenty years ago, and shudder to think of the realities that are unfolding. The Republican party has long dissociated itself with human rights, equal rights or even basic compassion (I think the Vatican may be surpassing them at this point) and just going for religious rhetoric.
It is much cheaper for the government not to invest in education of its citizens, and leave that to the hands of mindless zealots who lack critical thinking skills. It is much more expedient to let faith based decision making sway logic than allow for dissent. In fact, it is much easier to cultivate "future workers" if they are raised to think that is their special purpose and they were all wanted here (to mine the uranium fields).
What frightens me is that people like Bachmann can get a JD and doctors who are pro-conceptus but anti-sexually active female are allowed to practice in the same fields that require higher standards of scrutiny in all other matters. I am not allowed to smoke weed, for instance, but I am allowed to decline a pregnant woman health care if I suspect in my tiny little mind that the "miscarriage" was purposeful. I hope they put in a rider clause for post-natal murder through medically induced homicide.
We condemn Saudi and the Middle East for so much, and yet the Republicans strive to be more more anti-female at each offing. I don't think they get the difference between fetishizing the female ideal and actually respecting the living human. Maybe they want the liberals to all move to California, New York and Canada.
Oryoki, I don't have a lot to add at this point (though I'll reserve the right to think of something to say later), but I thought you made a lot of really great points quite well. Thanks for visiting. :)
does this georgia politician have any opinion about bombing people in foreign lands? you can argue that muslim fetuses are going to hell anyway, but i'd like to hear him say it.

this just what passes for politics in the usa. there's a lotta votes in talking like this, so someone does.
You've covered a lot of ground here Kent. The Georgia proposal is offering up a challenge to Roe vs Wade. The anti-legalized-abortion crowd will keep trying one means or another till they achieve their end. It reminds me of how some cyber attacks work. They try to penetrate the security of some system and even though hundreds or thousands are thwarted, eventually one might get through. If anti-abortion legislation is framed in dozens of different ways, one just might get up to the Supremes and slide through on a 5-4 vote.

As to the content of the proposal, should fetuses now be included in the census? Do we add nine months to life expectancies? Should conceptiondays take their place alongside birthdays? Is what Casey Anthony is accused of no worse than the actions of any woman who has an abortion?

As has been said before, if men could get pregnant then not only would abortions be freely available, the rights to them would be enshrined in the constitution.
Al Loomis- apparently embryonic personhood only applies to those conceived in the uteros of American women. I wonder how they will apply this law to "illegal" women who are having anchor abortions. Enemy combatants don't get legal protection for anything else, why would they get them in utero?

Abrawang- this is still an issue of race and class warfare, not just gender. In reality, any woman with enough means can go to another state or another country or hire a private physician to get an abortion. There is no reason why there would be public oversight on this, as pregnancies are not "registered" and therefore cannot go "missing". This can only be used to harass people with no means. Of course, it also encourages women to decline any kind of health care once they suspect they may be undesirably pregnant, which relieves the state of the burden of prenatal medical costs. It will also mean a lot more babies in dumpsters. I hope they are planning to increase their Safe Haven laws. I understand some hospitals got a surplus of young children and teens also abandoned by their overwhelmed parents.
Abrawang, no doubt. Rachel Maddow noted in response to one or another of these proposed pieces of legislation that five minutes after sex you'd be able to drive in the carpool lane. :) You're right that it makes a lot of things very confusing.

It reminds me a bit of the law on legal personhood. My understanding, which is maybe even more forgiving than it should be since it might have been more cynical than this, is that originally the problem was simply “how can a corporation sign a contract?” or some such issue. And rather than just make the law extend to that one case, someone figured it'd be simpler if they just made corporations be people. It seems simple at first, of course, but later one realizes “hey, they're really not, and some of this stuff just doesn't make sense.” The same is true for “fetuses.” It may seem expedient to do this for some case one cares about, but it has many weird consequences that would have to be patched even if one agreed with the philosophy behind the proposal. And it's worse if one doesn't agree, of course.
Oh, and as for babies in dumpsters, I think they'll probably be happy to apply the Patriot Act and insist the event is a terrorist matter, and perhaps call for everyone in the area to give DNA samples so they can sort it out that way. These things just creep.
Oryoki, the “anchor abortions” issue is probably not the problem. I'm sure they'll be happy to prosecute people who do that as foreign combatants and exile them post haste. It's the ones who have anchor children already—or assert they do. How can you tell? You basically can't send any foreigner home if they assert they've had sex with a native. You wouldn't be able to tell for quite some time, and absent such, uh, intel, you would have to presume they were “American Inside” at least until you could show otherwise. Interesting thought.
Kent- I think we just solved the human rights issue of undocumented immigration. Send all the illegals to states where they cannot have abortions or get birth control, and they can just say they think they are pregnant with an unborn American. The fathers can't be asked to leave, lest their future child go on welfare. So, that must be what they are talking about with future workers. I understand Georgia is shy some 11,000 field workers for picking fruit.
Oryoki - I don't disagree with anything you said re race and class. I hope you didn't think otherwise.

Kent - interesting comparison with corporations as persons. If TimeWarner were to shut down HBO, could that someday be murder?
Abrawang- if men could get pregnant, there wouldn't be war.
I will be honest... the Republicans have turned into "jack booted thugs" in the last few years. The state must PRESUME guilt in order to press charges to start with and when a woman has a miscarriage (I have had two) she feels a whole lot more GUILT than is known and YES she does BLAME HERSELF when she has a miscarriage. She plays the "if I wouldn't have" game in her mind and goes over every little thing that she can remember doing from the moment she got pregnant until the moment she miscarried. Stupid fools are only making it worse and I REALLY wish there was a way to make each and every one of the "every sperm is sacred" crowd in the Republican party pregnant.

Oil companies do not pay royalties when they drill on public lands... close that loophole and you gain a LOT more than "a couple billion dollars." Oil companies don't NEED the welfare... look at their bottom lines if they needed it they would not have profits in the BILLIONS of dollars a year in this economy.

Close that corporate jet loophole... they don't NEED it any more than any of the rest of us needs an STD.

I really will have to drop a letter in the mail to my congressional representative... He's a republican, a tea partier and a doctor...

*Sigh* I MISS BART STUPAK! Bart may have been a whole lot of things but he at least had the sense enough to come in out of the rain. You don't drill holes in the keel of the ark during the middle of the flooding... and that IS what the Prepublicans are doing. (NO "prepublican" is NOT a typo... they are "men" who arrived here as the result of premature ejaculation... so we might as well call 'em what they are... )
I don' t have much useful to say about the abortion issue itself, but I'd like to address the politics.

Inconsistency is the hallmark of dogmatism, and dogmatism has become the organizing principle of the Republicans.

I have a lot of problems with a lot of Democrats. But despite all their claims to the contrary, the continued insistence by the Republican party on expanded government intervention in the lives of their citizens, is exactly why I have very seldom voted for a Republican, and am highly unlikely to for any legislative post.

A lot of liberals do it too - wanting to use government power to force people to behave the way they want. But the Republicans are highly organized around it. And I think you'll find a lot of Democrats in support of the idea of punishing women for doing things during pregnancy that harm their unborn child -- from drug abuse to failing to take proper care of themselves.

I believe that the Republicans have made a deliberate strategy of coming up with issues that might appeal to, or fly below the radar of, such voters.

I think, on today, Independence Day 2011, it is time to call on all political candidates to take a Pledge of Independence, to represent the interests of their voters over the interests of any political party, and to reject all iron-cast pledges and commitments to dogmatic positions, or "purity tests" any form.

And yes, that's self-referential, and one would be committing oneself to being open to making a well-thought-out exception.

It is my hope that by endorsing such dogmatic and extreme positions, while demanding hewing to the party line, the Republicans will make the American voters realize what's at stake, and to begin demanding representation, rather than candidates beholden to small groups of extremists (on any side).

Unfortunately, I'm not terribly optimistic. Angry electorates seem more inclined to vote for extreme positions, even against their own interests.

And abortion is an issue where Republicans have found anger, and they continually seek ways to tap this anger in ways that will not offend the majority of the voters who actually vote. (Nobody cares about the voters who don't vote. No representation without voting).
MrsRaptor, I agree that going after people who've had the trauma of a miscarriage is adding insult to injury.

Bob, you sound like someone who needs his own blog. :) Why don't you cut&paste some of that into a post of your own. I bet people would come and listen. You make some good points.
Unfortunately, our government has been hijacked by the fast talking and misinformation of the right wing. Too many people only hear "key words" when listening to anything they say. They like to use words like socialist, liberal, anti-life, and of course their favorite phrase "we are against tax hikes". Too many people only hear the words tax hikes, or tax cuts. They do not bother to read who those tax cuts are for. And as far as the abortion rhetoric, Georgia like Florida, is in the bible belt. Our wonderful governor just signed a bill into law, that requires any woman seeking an abortion for any reason, to first undergo an ultrasound, and be forced to watch it. The reasoning, once she sees that it is a "baby" she will feel too much guilt to terminate the pregnancy.
Kenny, you make some interesting points. I made some notes for use in future blogs. Thanks.
It does seem silly for states to try to pass laws that are contrary to Supreme Court decisions and federal law.
Well Gov Perry in TX is threatening to arrest TSA agents who get a little to zealous in their pat downs. Personally I like that he is trying.

But it seems to be in vogue these days for states to try to find work arounds to federal laws, either liberal or conservative minded.
Kent, your extremely well written and thorough piece reminded me of a book I read many years ago. Are you familiar with it? It's called The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. It was a futuristic look at a totalitarian theocracy that has overthrown the US government who believe that social degradation needs to be stopped among other things. Women become subjugated to this regime which also of course decides to control their reproductive rights. The book haunted me for a long time, despite my pro-life beliefs at the time. Seeing all the cuts in funding for services for poor women, children and families, and the attempts to reverse legalized abortion in this country...Atwood's book may have been more prophetic than fiction. Thanks for all the hard work you put into writing this important post.
Thanks for this well researched and thought provoking post.
I heard one of the "big shots" of the life at conception movement speak on NPR. It is like they think it is different somehow than the pro-life movement. It seems like they have just widened the gap with reality.
rated with love
Kent, this is an extremely evocative piece, and one that is only scratching the surface of such a deep issue. The problem with Roe v Wade was that it was a decision for all about a multi-faceted subject.

I expect the bill (GH1)will not pass because it seeks to do the same - make a ruling that will affect a large spectrum and scope. Well done, well reported... very tender issue, isn't it??
Joseph, I think for many things, as you sort of allude to, the pressure on the federal government to allow the states some leeway is not all bad. But when it comes to the rights of citizens, pushing back with a “we don't need no stinking rights” kind of approach is not good. Of course, the pro-Life position is that a fetus (and even a zygote) has the same rights as a person. That seems seriously flawed logic to me.

Mary, I know of it, and I think I may have seen a movie by that title, though as often happens with movies, it may have lost something in the translation, and it was long ago. So I thank you for sharing your thoughts about the association. It is amazing what authors can see sometimes, but then maybe it's more an issue of what others can't see. The signs of these things are often in plain view for a good long time before we all acknowledge them, and the ones who took the trouble to just say so are often heralded as visionaries. That's not to diminish them, but to say we all have opportunities around us to see farther than we commonly do.

Poetess, thanks for visiting and sharing that bit of oddness. I agree with you about the gap with reality.

Princess, for what it's worth, although the pro-Life camp sees Roe v. Wade as a leftist plot, I see it as a proper political compromise (click through to read my post on the subject). I think it was intended to be a compromise for all in that it insisted on creating a framework that dealt fairly with all points of view. I regard a great deal of the pro-Life activism these days as basically “we want more than our fair share of an honestly drawn compromise.”
It's not surprising a movement that relies on an ever-escalating display of purity and purpose, but has to avoid overtly expressing its religious intent, uses civil law means to effect a religious end.

I have spoken of the liberty negating impracticality of what must be police state laws and enforcement in a supposedly free society. The blastocyst as a Ward of the State, the woman's rights held inferior to the embryo and State Interest.

This is revealing. You write:
"Republicans are willing to incorporate as a matter of stipulated fact in the laws they write that aborted human fetuses would, if only they were allowed to be carried to term, significantly contribute to the prosperity and continuation of this state."

My, my! Doesn't that sentiment lie within the dark aura of the "lebensborn" concept? It's not exactly the same, of course, but what compares is enough to condemn the idea. The "N" word people wanted to breed perfect Aryans, also for the "benefit of the State," which is where the sinister similarity applies. The difference is they took responsibility for raising the child, and the Republicans don't.
It's generally very difficult to get to the right of those "N" people, but I think these Republican legislators have managed to do that.
RW, I think you've pegged the common theme. It's that card trick I explained in my post Hypocrisy and High-Collar Crimes. See the section “Handwaving, Distracting from the Truth” if you don't have time to read the whole piece. You probably know the trick. I just don't know the name for it so have to refer to it by pointing. Heh...
Paul, the Right has systematically attempted to smear the left with that moniker. As a consequence, in their spin zone, everything is to the right of that position. How convenient.

And, hey, Godwin's Law wins again. Not that your comparison wasn't apt. But it's a little like you're Mr. Mxyzptlk from the Superman comics, being tricked yet again into saying his name backward. They probably planned it that way all along. Well, thanks for the insight anyway. :)
It is an apt comparison, though there may be others less prone to the "inflammatory" label. The problem with finding and using those examples is you'd have to spend time explaining the unfamiliar. Perhaps the Franco fascists had something similar, but why I don't know if they did is the same reason others wouldn't get the comparison, even if there was a similarity.
I, of course, don't care what the typical right-winger feels or says, and have no compunction about making the comparison. The comparison is valid, so the shame isn't mine.
Besides, there are many Right Wingers who proudly use the label, and despite their ignorance of what it means, the ideas are basically the same, no matter what era of history. It's their use of the label that grants another level of permissive use on my part, as far as I'm concerned.
The fun thing is, given their rigid ideological mindset, one can validly compare them to the less inflammatory-label Bolsheviks as well. "Control freak ideologues" can be used to define either extreme.
So if anyone is offended by the "N" comparison, choose the other option. I can defend my position either way.
Paul, your perspectives are always welcome and were quite on-the-mark. I was just alluding to the weird-but-effective Republican spin tactic of immunizing themselves against apt criticism by making wild criticisms of the same kind against others so that later if anyone tries to tar them with the same stuff, it comes across as petty blowback instead of logical analysis.
They throw everything and the kitchen sink. They even have a shtick describing ol' Funny Mustache guy as a leftie hippy who dropped acid with Leary and protested 'Nam.
I am reminded of my Mom, when I was young, talking about how the "N" people constantly accused others of being what they were. A sort of preemptive immunity ruse. It's rampant among the Right now, as you know, which is one good reason to not waste time seeking intelligent conversation with them.
I have some experience with the Rwing, as an aunt and uncle were rabid Birchers. By the time I was 5, I already knew of the communist water fluoridation plot. Haven't seen them in a long time, but last I heard they were wandering around the nursing home, muttering : "Mr Gorbachev, put the damn wall back up!"
Kent, thanks for writing about this.

Clearly, the GOP needs to divorce itself from the right wing Christian "Bible Thumper" conservatives - who are trying to legislate the morallity of other people.

However, there is a basic bottom line to all of this, and to quote the late Walt Kelly's Pogo, in an Earth Day cartoon in 1971: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

We, the people, need to make the choice: DO NOT ELECT OR RE–ELECT THESE WHACKOS.

The truly scary thing is, these extremist politicians do not recognize the basic tenet of freedom of (and from) religion. There are at least 2,000 versions of the Bible, and all of them are different in some ways. There are hundreds if not thousands of religions. What makes these political whackos believe they have the right to cram their beliefs down the throats of other people?

At some point, people should wake up and realize that freedoms we take for granted are at risk by the few who want to Hitlerize our country.
I'm certain such attempts will be ruled unconstitutional by the USSC. The law of the land regarding abortion was determined by Roe v. Wade. You're quite right, it should be between a woman and her doctor and NO ONE else. Maybe Georgia is trying to lure the wire hanger manufacturers to their state.