Georgia Declares Women no Better than Livestock

About a month ago, Georgia Representative Terry England made headlines with his controversial and incredibly offensive comparison of women to livestock. He was arguing in defense of HB 954, known as both the “Fetal Pain” bill and the more accurate “Women are Livestock” bill, would have banned any and all abortions after 20 weeks, requiring women to carry even nonviable fetuses to term. According to England, pigs and cows carry nonviable fetuses, so why shouldn’t women?

It seems as though my brain just refused to accept that this fiasco was occurring, because I wrote off England’s comments and the bill’s existence as yet another misguided attempt by Republicans to prevent women from having autonomy over their own bodies, and assumed (naively, apparently) that the bill, while upsetting, would be killed before it made it to the governor’s desk.

I clearly underestimated the Georgia state legislature. On March 31, the State Senate passed the bill, and all it needs now is the governor’s signature.

Granted, the bill contains a few more compromises than its original incarnation – and by compromises, I mean no, actually it’s pretty much just as awful as it was before, but Republicans are able to pat themselves on the back and sleep well at night (presumably in their creaky, dirt-filled coffins). The original bill banned any and all abortions after 20 weeks, whether or not the fetus was going to survive gestation or even survive outside the womb. Women would have to carry, and give birth to, a fetus that was either dead or going to die. Because cows.

Pictured: how Georgia Republicans see women

 

The compromise? Now there are exceptions for “medically futile” pregnancies and fetuses that have “profound and irremediable anomalies that would be incompatible with sustaining life after birth.” Ok, so now a woman doesn’t have to carry a dead baby in her for nine months. How very generous, yes? Oh, except instead, if a woman finds out she needs to have an abortion after 20 weeks, the new law requires that the abortion “be done in a way to bring the fetus out alive.” I know a very basic amount about how abortions work, but I do know that the goal is not to have a live fetus after the fact. This law basically requires a doctor to induce labor so the woman gives birth to a fetus that, depending on the time frame, wouldn’t have survived outside the womb even if it was healthy (according to the British Medical Association, a baby’s lungs haven’t developed enough to give it a chance until 24 weeks).

This is where things get fuzzy for me. From what I understand, bringing the fetus out alive means it would have to be killed…or die on its own…in order to meet the requirements of the law. I guess these Republicans think that is the more humane option. Oh, and if doctors don’t follow these horrifying new rules, they can face up to 10 years in prison.

The other compromises are…oh no wait, that’s it. There are no exceptions for rape, incest, or mental health of the mother.  A mentally ill woman could be raped by her father, and have to give birth to her baby. Let that sink in for a moment.

The amount of rage coursing through me right now is pretty hard to control. These people, who are elected as representatives of their population, are very clearly stating that they think the rights of a fetus, one that is so small or malformed that it can’t even survive outside of the womb, is far more important than any woman in the state of Georgia. It doesn’t matter to them that a woman would have to go through the heart-wrenching process of carrying something inside her for months that is inevitably going to die. It doesn’t matter that she may have to actually give birth to a baby that can’t survive. It doesn’t matter that she finds out at 21 weeks that her baby has a devastating illness and she can’t afford to deal with it, but whatever illness it is isn’t deemed “medically futile” enough for legislators to allow her to terminate her pregnancy. None of this matters, because a woman is merely a vessel for this clump of cells, and once she gets pregnant, whether through her consent or not, she has no rights to her body.

According to Dan Becker, president of Georgia Right to Life and contender for most evil person on the planet (he’s tied with Doug McKillip, the author of the bill), this legislation “will save roughly 1,500 lives a year.” Never mind all of the children who will be born with devastating deformities and diseases, and will have to suffer their entire lives. Never mind all of the money that is going to have to be spent taking care of these children. Never mind all of the women who are literally being treated like animals, forced to go through an incredibly emotionally destructive process because a bunch of politicians think they know best.

There is no other way to say it. These politicians hate women. They do not care about women. They think women are no better than animals. I am ashamed to be associated with these people in any way, and I can only hope Governor Nathan Deal can muster up some form of humanity and reject this monstrosity. This piece of legislation makes me sicker than anything we have witnessed so far. We have gone so far backwards in such a short amount of time, and this is now what we are faced with.

Representative Simone Bell (D-Atlanta) protests the Senate's passage of HB 954

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5 thoughts on “Georgia Declares Women no Better than Livestock

  1. I want to start by saying I don’t disagree with you at all here, but here are a few thoughts I have (because I’m pregnant and have experienced pregnancy).

    Usually, birth defects and whatnot are caught before 20 weeks because you go in for the ultrasound to determine your baby’s gender around 16-18 weeks. And I think later term abortions might be more dangerous for the mother.

    I’m trying to make sense of the actual bill here: http://www1.legis.ga.gov/legis/2011_12/fulltext/hb954.htm

    In section 16-12-141 … it looks like abortions after the first trimester should be discouraged unless medically necessary. I’d imagine that most people who get raped and don’t want to be pregnant won’t wait around an extra 2 months after finding out they’re pregnant to decide they want an abortion. I’d want to get one right away! And then after I have my 16-week ultrasound and my baby has some kind of deadly deformation, I’d decide to get an abortion THEN instead of waiting until 20 weeks to be like, “Oh, by the way, I think I want an abortion now.” Then it seems to say that IF the decision to abort isn’t because it would be “medically futile” for the baby, the doctor should try to perform the abortion in such a way that the child has a chance of surviving and receiving medical attention (instead of being stuck out in a trash can and left to starve and die from the elements). And it also includes a lot about not causing damage to the mother. There are lots of crazy horror stories from the other side about “partial-birth” abortions. The bill does NOT say the woman is going to be induced for the abortion. It seems to say that if it looks like the baby will have a chance of surviving, we should give it that chance instead of killing it.

    “(3) ‘Medically futile’ means that, in reasonable medical judgment, the unborn child has a profound and irremediable congenital or chromosomal anomaly that is incompatible with sustaining life after birth.” >>> so it looks like doctors will NOT be forced to try to keep babies alive who will die at/after birth anyway. Doctors will make that decision, not a government legislator, because the doctors are the ones with “reasonable medical judgment”. There are also lots of sections about medical emergencies/complications where exceptions will be made if it will literally cause harm/damage/death to the woman.

    “I don’t feel like having this baby anymore” is not an excuse … by 20 weeks, you’ve had plenty of time to get an abortion for emotional/mental reasons. Seriously. I’ve been through this twice before. 99+% of women will know well before 20 weeks whether they want an abortion … unless it’s a medical emergency, in which this bill OK’s it. By 20 weeks, a non-‘medically futile’ fetus is really well developed and usually WOULD be viable at birth if they weren’t prematurely aborted and trashed. I’ve seen my babies’ ultrasounds. They wouldn’t be able to survive outside the womb at 20 weeks, but -duh!- they’re not even supposed to be out yet! So I think it would be completely wrong for a woman to choose to abort a healthy baby who will NOT die and NOT cause her physical harm because at 20 weeks a baby is moving, and feeling, and developing, and responding, and has even developed genitalia. They’re no longer an unidentifiable clump of cells like they were in the first trimester (although they develop a pumping heart by 8 weeks … you still can’t guarantee that that fetus is actually viable at that point. Some women wait until after 12 weeks to announce their pregnancies because you can still miscarry before then.) But after 16 weeks they’re actually well-developed little people who *would* survive if given the chance to be born normally at term (again, if they’re not “medically futile”) … and 20 weeks is 4 weeks of even *more* development and responding to stimuli.

    In most places, late-term abortions are illegal anyway, aren’t they? So how is this any different from what’s already being practiced? It actually kind of looks like it’s protecting women seeking late (emergency/medically necessary) abortions by saying they need to take placed by licensed physicians in licensed hospitals … sounds like guaranteed better and safer medical care to me! Did you read that article about how some certain abortion pill actually almost KILLS a lot of women from hemhorraging? But the abortion clinics don’t give the women that information when they tell ’em to take it.

    Summary: I don’t think this bill is as evil as it is hyped up to be, but at the same time I think the legislature is overstepping its bounds. Stop making laws to try to make medical decisions … let women have that decision be between themselves and their doctors. I think doctors are a liiiiittle bit more qualified than legislators when it comes to things like that. 😉

  2. Ugh. Apparently they already have a law like this in Nebraska.

    http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/nebraska-couple-watches-their-baby-die-because-of-new-law-2462071.html?fb_action_ids=10100407226192419&fb_action_types=news.reads&fb_source=other_multiline&code=AQARV2E9GPmltTjxmA9XneejzJAS4ICWrTAIL74u6ebicLWqmD_qBWvJfU1RpKb7TPtfGVz3Dp2Ic8kkpBiAi3n1HhopTVrFqNENHGlCwElb37476aSlNCaoU9zLhr1yVeaxFw99LT-yVMrHwsWi-zCVIH31SQ9TzU5Ft_RfvnWA-Kw9GVNqbLSrQwB_23rjzq8#_=_

    It makes no sense to me that they would send this woman back home after her water breaks … everything I’ve read and experienced (in the 2 states I’ve had/will be having babies) doctors at the hospital want you to deliver within 24 hours of your water breaking. Yet these doctors sent her home and made her wait for her labor to start naturally … is that really the new law? Then how would hospitals be enforce that 24-hour time limit? Ugh. Crazy.

  3. I don’t want you to think I am not replying to your comments because I am ignoring them – just didn’t have time to sit down and really read through it.

    In the interest of not writing a whole long rant (since that’s what this blog is for anyway) I will say you bring up some valid points, except it’s not always the case that at 20 weeks you are going to know exactly how your baby is developing. For example, this woman found out at 29 weeks that her baby had a brain defect: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/07/late-term-abortion-29-weeks-dana-weinstein, and according to the article, “most brain development occurs in the third trimester.” So yes while most women get abortions way before that time (98.6%), there are situations where you might not know your baby has a problem until later.

    And yes, in that case, many bills have exceptions and I would hope that that woman would qualify for an abortion under state law…but the point is these legislators don’t WANT to include those exceptions. These bills in their original forms have NO exceptions for situations like that, and the only reason they ever get included are because of political pressure. I guess what makes me so upset is the intention of the people behind these bills. Most of them don’t get passed in their original form, and if they do they end up getting struck down in court, but the bottom line is there are so many people out there so focused on passing this kind of legislation that it’s scary. Because you never know when it could go too far.

    You’re totally right. Legislators have no business making medical decisions.

    PS. Your link for the Nebraska story didn’t work 😦

  4. Pingback: Anger Over Arizona’s Abortion Bill Misplaced | Escaping the Garden

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