Here’s a typical, arbitrarily-selected example of the standard rhetoric from anti-choicers who just happened to be the leading supporters of so-called
fetal homicide bills at the state and federal level:
I don’t buy the theory that any fetal homicide laws in existence, nor the one recently vetoed by Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, would have the effect of criminalizing abortion. Abortion rights are as safe in California as they are just about anywhere else, and have always been so, but Scott Peterson is still considered a double-murderer. Good.
You heard this from nearly every conservative legislator and Concerned Woman for America over and over again as these bills moved through the legislature. Problem is that that was all a goddamned lie. All that sentimental law-making was not about protecting pregnant women from domestic violence; it wasn’t about punishing men who attack women and it wasn’t even about protecting fetuses from assaults on their mothers.
It’s about abortion. Specifically, it’s about creating the legal groundwork for enforcing murder statutes against anyone who helps young women obtain an abortion unauthorized by the government. (The second part of the one-two punch, of course, is that anti-choicers are working hard every day to ensure that as many kinds of abortion as possible are unauthorized by the government.)
Pro-choice groups said this over and over again when the debate over manipulative bills like
Laci and Connor’s Law came up. For it, they were denounced as paranoiacs and bitter partisans. But guess what? They were right.
A few months ago I mentioned test case #1, in which a Macomb County prosecutor decided to indict a 16 year old boy for manslaughter after he helped his girlfriend in a desparate, home-made abortion by hitting her (with her consent) with a baseball bat until she miscarried (she was about four months pregnant at the time).
Think that was just some rogue prosecutor with an axe to grind? Well, oops—they did it again. In test case #2, a Lufkin, Texas prosecutor has decided to raise the stakes by charging an 18 year old boy with capital murder for helping his 16 year old girlfriend with a desparate, home-made abortion by stepping on her stomach.
They didn’t go through the extensive bureaucratic paperwork, privacy-invading parental notification measures, artificially inflated expense, traumatic harassment by screeching fundamentalists, or invasive surgery that the states of Michigan and Texas impose on young women seeking an abortion. And for that, the prosecutors are going after them with a charge of murder.
Of course, since the authors and supporters of the bill clearly weren’t trying to do anything like this when they passed it, obviously they are raising howls of protest.
A co-author of the state law said it was intended to protect women and unborn babies from domestic violence, drunken drivers and other assaults.
We didn’t consider a case as ridiculous as this,said Rep. Ray Allen, a Republican.I feel sad for these immature, stupid people. But the law is what the law is.
Of course they didn’t mean for any of this to happen; but hey, it’s not like legislators can change the law or anything, right?
Meanwhile, the prosecutors in both Macomb County and Lufkin mainly seem to regret that they can’t haul the poor girl before the magistrate and have her sent to a pro-life prison or perhaps a pro-life lethal injection. They regret that their
hands are tied by the laws’ explicit exemption of the mother from legal liability.
Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said his hands were tied when it came time to decide whom to charge in the baseball bat beating death of a fetus being carried by a teenage girl.
He decided Tuesday to do the only thing one state statute allowed: charge the boyfriend who wielded the bat, hitting his girlfriend in the stomach repeatedly over a two-week period, but let the girl off the hook, uncharged.
Although Smith called the caseshocking and reprehensible,he added,we are bound by the law. We don’t have the option of charging (the girl).
Prosecutor Clyde Herrington said it was startling thatthey completely leave the female out of the criminal penalty.
It doesn’t seem entirely fair,Herrington said.
(You might think that the explicit exemption for punishing the mother is evidence that the laws weren’t intended to be applied in cases of unpermitted abortion. Horsefeathers. Even most strident anti-abortionists mainly favor bans that would punish abortion providers but not the woman who has an abortion; and the fact that they would think it’s necessary to exempt the mother from liability shows, if anything, a specific intent to apply it broadly to cases in which the mother consents to inducing the miscarriage. Otherwise there’d be no need for the exemption.)
What were those stupid, immature, shocking, reprehensible kids thinking, anyway? Don’t they know abortion is illegal in this country?
This is no accident. They are coming for the young and desparate first; they are the easiest to go after. They have already created a byzantine system of explicit restrictions and burdensome regulations to create a limited class of
authorized abortion providers and make the conditions of obtaining an
authorized abortion from them as harrowing as possible. Now they are moving to back up those restrictions with a charge of murder for any provider who steps outside of the ever-narrowing magic circle of what the courts will uphold from Roe. The purpose is to make the equation of abortion with murder a standard and accepted part of legal practice, and to bring closer the day in which there are no protections left at all (because, after all, they would be
unfair). Lucinda Cisler warned us that this was a trap back in 1969, just four years before Roe: giving the State the power to limit who is
authorized to provide an abortion and under what conditions (whether or not the woman consents to those conditions) is furnishing the ground from which to launch the counterattack against abortion-law repeal, and it means that the most desperate women will be targeted first.
Welcome to 2005. Here we are building a culture of life, one hangman at a time.