I don’t pretend to be a person with legal knowledge. What I am is a woman who has had a miscarriage. Of a baby. That we will never, ever understand. We have no reason. No explanation. Just the fact that it happened.
And, when I found out that a Georgia Representative (Bobby Franklin) has written a bill that could potentially punish a woman with death for a miscarriage, I
was am disgusted. Immediately.
House Bill 1* addresses a number of things including abortion, defining when life begins, and miscarriage as "prenatal murder." I’m not here to address the first two issues. I want to address the issue that miscarriage could be potentially defined as "prenatal murder" "unless no human involvement whatsoever is the causation." And, nowhere in this bill does it address how causation would or would not be proved. (I realize I’m assuming the burden of proof would be on the mother; it isn’t stated otherwise, and I can’t figure out who else it would be on). And, so, my letter to Representative Franklin.
Dear Representative Franklin-
I’ve started this letter to you (in my head) in a number of ways. From wanting to commend you for composing such a terrible bill to wanting to verbally attack you. However, none of those choices will demand a listening and respectful ear.
Miscarriage. Most often for unknown reason. No definition. No explanation. Most typically, they even happen before a woman knows she is even pregnant. And, if she’s unfortunate enough to go through knowing she’s pregnant and losing a baby, speaking for myself, life will never be the same.
As a woman who has had a miscarriage, I can tell you that there is no way I could ever say with 100% certainty that I didn’t "whatsoever" have any causation in it. After all, it was my egg. Maybe my body made a bad egg? Maybe that one time I slept on my back, did that do something? Or maybe it’s the Zyrtec that I took daily to prevent my allergies? Could it have been the exercising? And, the list goes on.
Are those reasons? Causes? Things that I "did" to "cause my miscarriage?" Would that be punishable by death?
And, even if I couldn’t prove it, let’s step back a minute. How are women going to be asked if they caused their miscarriage? Is it going to be a questionnaire? Is the doctor going to have a series of questions they need to ask a mother? A woman who has just lost her baby. Just found out that her baby is no longer alive. The baby she had hopes and dreams for.
When do you think would be a good time to determine if a woman caused her miscarriage?
I think the first option would be right after she finds out. Maybe right when the bleeding starts? Or (in my case) when she is laying on the examination table with her two year old in the room and the midwife looks up and her with sorry eyes and just shakes her head "no." Right after the midwife then looks over and she can barely hear or see her through her tear filled eyes, and instead of saying "don’t worry. This isn’t your fault. You did nothing wrong." she says "so, let’s see if this is your fault."
And, if none of those sound good? Maybe right after the woman has to check herself into the hospital after fasting because of the impending anesthesia and "surgery." You know, while she is waiting to go back to the operating room.
If that still doesn’t strike your fancy, how about the due date? Because I’m certain the woman won’t ever forget that date so it will be pretty convenient to schedule that well into the future.
Okay, so maybe there was some tone and snarkiness.
But, maybe you haven’t thought about all of this. Maybe you’ve never been in this situation. A situation where a woman feels broken, and empty and now has to prove that "no human involvement whatsoever in the causation of such event."
Modern medicine doesn’t know why most miscarriages happen and what causes them. But now, you want to place a bill on the floor, to potentially come a law that will require women to prove that they didn’t have anything to do with their miscarriage?
I don’t get it. So, please help me understand your logic. Help me understand how I wouldn’t be penalized and punished for my miscarriage. Or, help me understand why you think I should be punished (along with many other women). Better yet, what your intention really is.
Miscarried in Georgia
I read the whole bill, but this is the excerpt from House Bill 1that is most upsetting to me:
*’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.
Thank you to MotherJones.com for referencing the link to the House Bill.