Women’s rights supporters use satire to battle latest ‘personhood’ measure
Colorado soundly defeated anti-abortion “personhood” ballot initiatives in the last two election cycles. Voters found the move to grant fertilized human eggs all of the rights of adult citizens of the state absurd and untenable. Personhood supporters have vowed to try again next cycle, saying they’re fighting an educational and moral battle and that winning will take time. The same battle is now waging in Georgia, where hard-core Republican Christian Rep. Bobby Franklin’s personhood legislation is drawing an outraged response from women’s rights supporters around the nation.
Franklin’s House Bill 1 comes in response to a personhood amendment submitted in the Georgia Senate. Franklin’s bill seeks to address the legal issues surrounding personhood and his bill is sweeping in its scope. Indeed, it serves to effectively lay out what’s at stake in the debate over personhood. His bill, for example, would amend Georgia’s criminal code to include “prenatal murder” and would subject women who have miscarriages there to criminal investigation.
Blogger Jill Filipovic wrote a response to Franklin’s legislation Friday that satirically points out the lopsided nature of the law, which she makes clear seems to willfully ignore key biological realities related to the way women’s bodies work to produce offspring. Filipovic’s mock letter to Franklin in support of the bill has been picked up widely in the blogosphere and on social networks.
Dear Rep. Franklin,
I applaud your efforts to support the rights of zygote citizens of Georgia by criminalizing miscarriages and investigating every instance of fetal death as a potential crime. The bill you are trying to pass is clear that the Georgia State Assembly knows that life begins at the moment of conception, and that any fertilized egg that dies is a human death that we should all grieve. I couldn’t agree more, and I would like to help.
As I’m sure you know, more than 50 percent of fertilized eggs –Georgia citizens! — naturally don’t implant and are flushed out of the body during menstruation. I am personally concerned that… I may have flushed some [of these Georgia citizens ] down the toilet without knowing… This must be remedied. I would like to be sure that I am not killing any more Georgia citizens — and that if I am… our state police can dedicate valuable time and resources to investigating their deaths.
To that end, I attach a picture of my latest used tampon. I am preserving this tampon, as well as all of my other tampons, pads, feminine hygiene products and soiled panties from my current menstrual cycle, so that the Georgia State Police can come collect them as evidence. I would also be happy to drop the specimens off at your office, should you want to examine them yourself.
Please let me know if I can make an appointment to give you these items…
Thanks for all the work you do to further the pro-life cause.
Filipovic encourages women readers to send their own versions of her letter to Franklin to consider.
The satire comes at a time when threats to reproductive rights have come under intense legal threat and when women’s rights supporters are lamenting the fact that Republican male lawmakers, confident since GOP midterm victories, have pushed radical anti-abortion laws in Washington and in states across the country.
In January, male Republican members of Congress moved to limit federal abortion funding in part by attempting to redefine “rape” to exclude, for example, incest and date-rape and underage-rape. Women’s groups said New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith and his supporters seeking to rework the definition of rape to only refer to what they termed “forcible rape” suggested they knew very little about either the term “rape” or about the adjective “forcible.” The ignorance guiding the idea that alleyway rape committed by a stranger was somehow more horrible or more “forcible” than the vast majority of rapes committed in the home by relatives or friends of the victims, they said, should discount these men from having input on any laws related to the topic. Smith ultimately took out the rape redefinition from his bill.
In February, members of Congress moved to strip federal funds from Planned Parenthood, which conducts the lion’s share of family planning and disease screening services for young woman and poor women coast to coast. Roughly one in five American women have visited a Planned Parenthood clinic to receive treatment.
As the Colorado Independent reported last month, Georgia’s Bobby Franklin also made national news this year when, after the Arizona shooting spree that injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, he introduced “church carry” House Bill 54, which would make it legal to carry firearms in houses of worship. Franklin said it was a matter of protection.
Franklin is a graduate of Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where he earned degrees in bible studies and business administration. At his legislature home page, he notes that he’s “an active member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church” and that “he has been called the ‘conscience of the Republican Caucus’ because he believes that civil government should return to its biblically and constitutionally defined role.”
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