Abortion rights

In state capitals all across the land, Republicans are gleefully using women as pawns in their political game. So deep is their desire to overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling that they’re oblivious to their lunacy.

Take Georgia, for instance.

In Atlanta, Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature this week turned HB481 into perhaps the nation’s most stringent anti-abortion law -- for now, at least. Georgia’s law is one of the so-called “fetal heartbeat” measures that prevent nearly all abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy. It also rules that “unborn children are a class of living, distinct person” that deserves “full legal recognition.” More on that in a minute.

But Georgia’s HB481 does much more. It criminalizes certain miscarriages. Women whose miscarriages are caused by their actions, intentional or not -- say, by drug use -- can be charged with second-degree murder and face up to 30 years in prison, Slate Magazine’s Mark Joseph Stern reports. Law enforcement would be allowed to investigate women’s miscarriages, a totalitarian invasion of women’s rights that borders on the surreal. Even women who travel to other states for abortions can be prosecuted for receiving a medical procedure the Supreme Court says is legal.

Oh, and that bit about “full legal recognition?” A Georgia appellate attorney, Andrew Fleischman, has explained this week that when HB481 takes effect Jan. 1, 2020, Georgia “will be illegally holding thousands of citizens in jail without bond,” Slate’s Stern writes. “That’s because, under HB481, pregnant inmates’ fetuses have independent rights — including the right to due process. Can a juvenile attorney represent an inmate’s fetus and demand its release? If not, why?”

To recap, beginning next year in Georgia, women will have virtually no say about their reproductive health care, their miscarriages can be investigated as potential crimes and HB481 will allow attorneys to question the legality of inmate fetuses’ imprisonment.

But at least Georgia’s law allows exceptions for rape and incest.

Alabama’s fetal heartbeat bill making its way through our Statehouse doesn’t. (That makes it a stronger legal challenge to Roe, its Republican sponsors say.) But what about Alabama women who are raped and become pregnant? Will they be forced to have a rapist’s child? On Wednesday, a woman addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee on this very point.

The woman, the Montgomery Advertiser reported, told the committee she had become pregnant through rape and said it was “unbearable” to consider allowing the pregnancy to continue. She continued, “When you do that, you’re putting our lives in danger. If abortion was not legal, I would still have one some way or somehow, or I would not be here, because there is no way I could carry my rapist’s child." The committee added rape and incest exceptions, which will require full Senate approval.

This is the minefield Republicans are creating, a toxic mixture of politics, medicine and personal beliefs that tell pregnant women they have no choice but to acquiesce to government oversight of their health and their bodies.