HB 481 Is Not Pro-Life.

It should come as a surprise to approximately no one that I oppose HB 481, widely known as the “heartbeat bill.” There are myriad reasons why I believe it is a terrible piece of legislation, but I have also been active on the internet long enough to know that even the feistiest, most data-driven blog post won’t change a single mind on any issue. So instead, I will share my reply to the pro-life constituents who contacted me during the debate on HB 481, in which I tried to explain why, if they are pro-life, HB 481 will not in any way help them achieve their goal. Here’s an excerpt:

I spoke against this bill from the well on March 7, 2019, prior to my first vote against HB 481. I intend to vote no when the bill returns to the House for an Agree/Disagree vote on the Senate’s changes. [I voted no.]

I have had several conversations with my pro-life friends about my ardent opposition to HB 481. I neither expect, nor intend, to change anyone’s mind on the issue of abortion. I know that many in the pro-life community view abortion as an issue that is completely binary, and they are compelled to support any legislation that would limit abortions.

I hope to explain why, if you are pro-life, this is not the bill you’re looking for.

It is true that several states have passed fetal heartbeat laws similar to what is proposed in HB 481. It is also true that each of these laws has been overturned following a legal battle that cost these states hundreds of thousands of dollars. What’s more, these cases also result in the state – meaning you, the taxpayers – paying the legal fees of the plaintiffs. Usually, the plaintiffs in these cases are Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. For example, the state of South Dakota paid Planned Parenthood $623,000 for their legal fees incurred during their litigation with the state following the passage of two unconstitutional anti-abortion bills.

It is for this reason that a similar bill in Tennessee was actually opposed by Catholic Church leadership and the right to life movement. From the Bishop’s letter:

The “Heartbeat Bill” has been passed in various forms across the country and has been consistently struck down by state and federal courts alike for being unconstitutional.  In these legal cases, a victory is handed to the pro-abortion plaintiffs and we must remember that every pro-abortion victory in the courts further strengthens the Roe v. Wade precedent and makes Roe that much more difficult to overturn.  Furthermore, states that defend their own “Heartbeat Bills” must pay attorney’s fees to Planned Parenthood when Planned Parenthood sues that state and wins in court. North Dakota is reported as being court ordered to pay $241,000 in attorney’s fees to Planned Parenthood.  Similarly, Arkansas was ordered to pay $121,689 in attorney’s fees to the pro-abortion plaintiffs when Arkansas lost its case.

Given the field of legal realities that we must consider, we believe it would not be prudent to support the “Heartbeat Bill” knowing the certainty of its overturning when challenged, in addition to the court ordered fees that would be paid to the pro-abortion plaintiffs.  Instances like these remind us that we must be prudent and support other pro-life pieces of pro-life legislation that stand a better chance of being upheld in the courts and, possibly, become the vehicle that forces the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe once and for all.

There are several other troubling components to HB 481. The bill would permit abortion in the case of rape or incest, but only if the assault survivor filed a police report against their attacker. Every child advocate I spoke to on this issue told me that in the case of incest, it is highly unlikely that a girl will be able to file charges against her abuser. Furthermore – and this should be of concern to all who are concerned with how accusations of sexual assaults are handled on our college campuses – we should anticipate an increase in the accusations of rape by young women who may seek any avenue to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Not to mention the various other aspects of the bill that are, to be fair, pretty out there, including including embryos and fetuses in the census count and allowing them to receive income tax exemptions.

Again, I do not intend in any way to try and change anyone’s mind on the issue of abortion. But I exhort every pro-life person reading this to understand how this bill will not, in any way, further the cause of pro-life advocacy.

37
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
8 Comment threads
29 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
10 Comment authors
bethebalanceThe EigerWill DurantGrindelwaldGregs Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
FreeDuck
FreeDuck

Thank you. The only thing I have to add is that it would be nice if we could take the money we will spend to defend this ill-conceived legislation and spend it to get obstetricians, midwives, and pediatricians in the 60-some-odd counties currently having none. Wouldn’t that be more pro-life to do everything we can to support healthy outcomes for wanted babies and their mothers?

Will Durant
Will Durant

Well obviously someone thought a really futile and stupid gesture must be done on somebody’s part. The legislators and governor who supported it should now have to pay to defend it out of their own pockets, not the taxpayers.

alpha male
alpha male

Well, at least you got ONE thing right. You did not change my mind.

Ch2596
Ch2596

I take your point to be that legislation like HB 481 is a bad bill because bills similar to it have not worked in the past, and the result is that, like all previous attempts, this one too is doomed to fail. If this is your argument, it is a non sequitur. Just because something has failed in the past, it does not follow necessarily that it will fail again. But just for curiosity’s sake, let’s say you’re right. I’m curious. If you were giving advice to your pro-life friends, what kind of bill would you suggest they pass that… Read more »

FreeDuck
FreeDuck

What is the moral argument of HB 481?

Ch2596
Ch2596

That a human fetus is a human being and ought to be treated as such by the law.

Benevolus
Benevolus

From conception? From detection of a heartbeat? From ability to feel pain? 20 weeks? 16 weeks?
If you mean from conception then I doubt there can be any further discussion. For the rest we would just be trying to establish a rational and realistic point in the absence of any science that can help.

I think we all agree that the goal should be to discourage scenarios where abortion is contemplated. Education, contraception, family planning, all the “other” things that Planned Parenthood does.

FreeDuck
FreeDuck

This bill outlaws abortion before an embryo becomes a fetus.

Grindelwald
Grindelwald

Says who?

I’m guessing your religion says life begins at the moment of conception. Mine says life doesn’t begin until the moment of birth. What makes the Christian interpretation more “right” than the Jewish interpretation? Why should Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, atheists, deists, and agnostics all have to abide by your definition for when life begins?

Our laws govern everyone in society… not just the folks that adhere to your religious beliefs. It’s why Roe drew the line at fetal viability – the ability of the fetus to survive outside the womb.

Ch2596
Ch2596

I haven’t said anything about my religious beliefs (or the lack thereof). I’ve only said it’s clear that the moral assumption of this bill is that legal protections ought to be extended to the unborn. The author of this article says that this bill is the bad means toward that end, so I ask her to suggest a better means toward that same end.

Grindelwald
Grindelwald

You said “a human fetus is a human being and ought to be treated as such by the law.” That is pretty reliant on the assumption that human life begins before birth.

Ch2596
Ch2596

Yes, that’s right. The bill clearly assumes that position.

Grindelwald
Grindelwald

…and I’m telling you we shouldn’t be in the business of imposing one religion’s interpretation of morality on everyone else.

Such a weird overlap between people paranoid about Sharia law and people who think everyone should have to accept a particular sect of Christianity’s definition of when “life” begins.

Ch2596
Ch2596

You aren’t paying attention. I’m not interested in getting into a philosophical or religious discussion about when life begins. I’m talking about this bill right here, HB 481, and I am interested to know if the author of the above article has a suggestion for pro-life supporters of a better way to achieve the end this bill clearly seeks.

Grindelwald
Grindelwald

I am interested to know if the author of the above article has a suggestion for pro-life supporters of a better way to achieve the end this bill clearly seeks. Write legislation that isn’t blatantly unconstitutional? Fund policies that expand access to contraceptives and comprehensive sex education to reduce the rate of accidental and unintended pregnancy? Take all the money that’s gonna be spent on lawyers and the attorneys’ fees award that’ll go to Planned Parenthood and just light it on fire? Going back to what I was saying earlier… your opposition to this column is this: “Just because something… Read more »

Ch2596
Ch2596

Thanks for the lecture on how law works. Dred Scott v. Samford used to be Supreme Court precedent once too. Good thing precedent is not so sacrosanct that a sovereign people cannot change it through constitutional means.

Grindelwald
Grindelwald

Except that the Dred Scott decision was never overruled, merely negated by the subsequent adoption of the 14th Amendment.

Good thing precedent is not so sacrosanct that a sovereign people cannot change it through constitutional means.

Ok, then pass an amendment. What’s that? You don’t have the support necessary to do that? Oh, my bad. Please, proceed with moronic legislation that won’t go anywhere.

Ch2596
Ch2596

Thanks for the permission. Now excuse us while we build a political coalition to overturn Roe.

Grindelwald
Grindelwald

Good luck with that, homie.

https://www.pewforum.org/fact-sheet/public-opinion-on-abortion/

Kemp, Pence, etc. know this Roe isn’t going anywhere and they’re perfectly fine with it because it lets them perpetuate their grift.

The Eiger
The Eiger

Glad to see you back on here Andrew.

Try to not get kicked off again by being a troll.

You are also giving yourself away by having to have the last word every time like last time.

Grindelwald
Grindelwald

The name isn’t Andrew.

Also, having discussions germane to the topic at hand isn’t “trolling” just because you disagree with my stance.

The Eiger
The Eiger

Sure

bethebalance
bethebalance

I hear echoes of “repeal” there, but as yet, none have put forth any Constitutional standard to “replace”. Because the S.Ct. won’t create a Constitutional vacuum where 50 states have free rein to make up standards that need to be tested. They will draw a Constitution line based upon the case(s) in front of them. In an anti-abortionist’s ideal world, what could that new line look like? It wouldn’t be able to remove exceptions for victims of any crime, or for the life and health of the mother. It won’t be able to preclude the possibility of undergoing a procedure… Read more »

Grindelwald
Grindelwald

I think the hope is that SCOTUS recognizes a fetus as a legal person, with attendant due process rights, thereby creating an outright prohibition on abortion. That, however, creates some unintended consequences. For starters, are fetuses American citizens? They haven’t been naturalized and I fail to see how one can be a “natural born citizen” when one hasn’t yet been born. Really curious to see how Clarence Thomas threads the needle on that one. More practically, any fetus inside a prison inmate is now being unlawfully detained in violation of their Constitutional right to due process. (You can’t imprison someone… Read more »

FreeDuck
FreeDuck

I’m not the author, but the most effective means of reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions is expanding access to and affordability of contraception.

https://www.denverpost.com/2017/11/30/colorado-teen-pregnancy-abortion-rates-drop-free-low-cost-iud/

Grindelwald
Grindelwald

If this is your argument, it is a non sequitur. Just because something has failed in the past, it does not follow necessarily that it will fail again.

Except we’re talking about the law. Planned Parenthood will sue in federal court. US District Courts are bound by stare decisis. This bill is blatantly unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade. The District Court – doesn’t matter which one – will strike it down. The Eleventh Circuit – which is also bound to honor Supreme Court precedent – will also strike it down.

alpha male
alpha male

Notice that the diarist does not answer your question. Of course, she also makes the absurd statement that the heartbeat bill is not pro- life. Of course it is.

She also apparently does not realize that the previous efforts have failed because Roe is the precedent. It is the constitutional law of the land- until it isn’t. This bill is part of the effort to chip away at Roe until it falls. And fall it will.

Because aside from the obvious morality involved, science is on our side .

Grindelwald
Grindelwald

“Science.”

Tell me how long a 6-week old fetus can survive outside the womb.

Benevolus
Benevolus

I don’t think there is an answer to that question. The “moral argument” is that abortion is murder, right? So the question asks how you write a bill that permits murder. The morality implied in the bill IS the point of contention.

IrishPat
IrishPat

Good to know the Catholic Bishop in Tennessee is a constitutional scholar.

Grindelwald
Grindelwald

Nah, I think he’s just a realist.

Grindelwald
Grindelwald

Just a reminder that 6 weeks pregnant = 2 weeks after a missed period.

I would also note that women’s menstrual cycles can fluctuate due to stress and other factors, so missing a period for 2 weeks may not always signal the “I’m pregnant” alarm bells.

If we’re gonna start forcing women to carry pregnancies to term, we should give them the right to sue the man who impregnated them for their medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, mental pain and suffering appurtenant to said pregnancy.

Gregs
Gregs

Dar’ Shun Kendrick proposed something similar in last year’s session. You need to also make child support retro active to the date of conception. All men must be forced to give a DNA sample so that immediate paternity can be established.

Grindelwald
Grindelwald

Let’s call it “negligent impregnation.”

Gregs
Gregs

Lest any joker from another state thinks he can come in here and make a person overnight with one of our southern belles and leave without anyone knowing, cars will be stopped at the border and passengers will be detained at the airport until they give up a sample. Your sins will find you out!

Will Durant
Will Durant

An amendment to the state constitution I would back wholeheartedly:
If the legislature and Governor pass legislation while knowing it will fail when tested against the US Constitution then they are each personally liable for the expense it creates for the state. If they fail to pay then a lien should be placed on their slush funds campaign war chests. Taxpayers should not be saddled with their deliberate debts created to simply posture.

Grindelwald
Grindelwald

Some other items of note… This law would allow the State of Georgia to criminally prosecute any woman who terminates her pregnancy for the crime of murder. Any woman who seeks out an abortion from her health care provider would be subject to life in prison. Any woman who miscarries because of her own conduct – like using drugs or drinking alcohol while pregnant – would be liable for second-degree murder. Are we going to start subjecting women who miscarry to police interrogations to make sure their miscarriage was “legitimate?” Is that really the kind of State we want to… Read more »