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By Hannah Le
Dec 23, 2012
Georgia HB 954, also known as “Women As Livestock,” passed. The bill caught national attention after State Representative Terry England (R) came to the bill’s defense and shared his thoughts a few months ago, “…if farmers have to ‘deliver calves, dead or alive’ then a woman carrying a dead fetus or one not expected to survive should have to carry it to term.”
Because that worked so well with Savita Halappanavar, right? And we thought the GOP couldn’t be any more openly misogynistic.
At first this bill criminalized all abortions after 20 weeks, regardless of health conditions. After weeks of negotiation the bill was revised in a way that an exemption will be made for medically futile pregnancies or if the health of the pregnant person is in danger. The revised bill still neglected to make an exemption for pregnant people with mental illnesses. So, those suffering with mental illnesses will still be forced to continue their pregnancy. The bill still has no exemptions for rape or incest.
According to Ms. Magazine and the bill itself:
In order for a pregnancy to be considered “medically futile,” the fetus must be diagnosed with an irreversible chromosomal or congenital anomaly that is “incompatible with sustaining life after birth.” The Georgia “fetal pain” bill also stipulates that the abortion must be performed in such a way that the fetus emerges alive. If doctors perform the abortion differently, they face felony charges and up to 10 years in prison.
And this “fetal pain” bill is just based on this silly notion that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks, even though doctors and scientists keep coming up with new studies that the nervous system of a fetus does not register pain until much later in the third trimester–one of many sources being The Journal of the American Medical Association. But whatever point of the pregnancy the fetus feels pain is actually not an issue for me. Pain, sentience, and/or personhood of the fetus, etc, none of that matters to me in this discourse for reproductive health care and rights. Pregnant people continue to be erased from this conversation, and I’m done with that. We need to stop participating in this erasure of people who are actually affected by these restrictions. The focus of the conversation should always be about choice and the people who can make one. Actuality should always come before potentiality. And remember, no one–whether it’s a fetus, a child, or a grown adult–has the right to another person’s body without constant consent.
I post this with the understanding that this issue does not affect only women or all women. I post this with the hopes that we all continue this fight for reproductive health care and rights.