Georgia state representative Bobby Franklin is pushing legislation in Georgia that would criminalize miscarriage. Both miscarriages and abortions would be potentially punishable by death: any “prenatal murder” in the words of the bill, including “human involvement” in a miscarriage, would be a felony and carry a penalty of life in prison or death. Not that we should even pay attention to such a flagrantly misogynistic bill—it’s like he is throwing a whole bunch of mud on the wall to see what sticks. However, just out of curiosity, let’s break down how this bill could potentially work.
According to Guttmacher, in 2008, there were 6.4 million pregnancies to the 62 million women of reproductive age (15-44) in the United States. Sixty-six percent of these pregnancies resulted in live births and 19% in abortions; the remaining 15% ended in miscarriage. This means that, nationally, there were 960,000 miscarriages. In Georgia, 219,700 of the 2,086,290 women of reproductive age became pregnant in 2008. 67% of these pregnancies resulted in live births, 18% in induced abortions, and 15% ended in miscarriage. In 2008 alone, there were 32,955 miscarriages in Georgia. That’s a whole lot of investigating on the taxpayer dime. Aren’t states supposed to be broke—so broke, in fact, that Georgia’s successful HOPE scholarship program is facing deep cuts?
Let’s take this further. Basically, what we are talking about is investigating women’s private behavior and how that private behavior may lead to what Rep. Franklin calls prenatal murder. If a woman trips, falls, and accidentally induces a miscarriage, will she be charged with prenatal murder? If a woman has spicy food and miscarries, will she be charged with prenatal murder? What if a woman has an incredibly stressful and physically demanding job (a firefighter or a teacher or a policewoman)? The possibilities here are endless.
One more piece of food for thought—perhaps Rep. Frank has never learned that 60% of fertilized eggs fail to implant. This means that 60% of pregnancies end in miscarriage—most of the time the miscarriage happens before a woman even knows she’s pregnant. That’s a whole new (very large) pool of potential felons. What shall we do with these women?