After years of sexual abuse at the hands of her step father, Mary was just fourteen when she finally told her best friend. She was scared, but nearly five months pregnant and no longer able to hide her expanding belly, she had no choice but to tell, just like she had no choice about being sexually assaulted. If Georgia Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) gets his way, Mary and others like her will also have no choice about whether to continue their pregnancies.
Mirroring a Nebraska law by the same name that passed in 2010 and providing no exception for rape or incest, Rep. Allen Peake’s “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” would change Georgia law to provide that abortions at post-twenty weeks gestation be available only if continuing the pregnancy would cause the mother’s death (suicide is specifically excluded) or “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.” Both criminal and civil penalties will apply to physicians who breach any of the numerous requirements of this legislation, and even those who follow all of the rules will have their names and abortion statistics available to the public. Sounds like a Randall Terry preferred reading list to me.
Below the fold are some of the other highlights of this horrific bill:
- Virtually any relative of the women or any “current or former” licensed health provider (read: disgruntled former employee of the physician) can file for injunctive relief against a doctor who violates any aspect of the statute.
- Even a medical diagnosis that a woman will kill herself if the pregnancy continues does not qualify as a reason to terminate the pregnancy.
- Regardless of the mother’s wishes, the father may sue a doctor who violates the statute. In the legislation, rapists and pedophiles who impregnate their victims are not explicitly prohibited from filing suit against the doctor.
- If a third party brings a lawsuit, they are required to use a pseudonym, but on a case-by-case basis, the court can decide whether the woman’s name is part of the public record.
- Even if the life of the mother is at risk, the fetus must be delivered in a manner that offers the best chance of survival. Presumably, this could include a Cesarean Section, major abdominal surgery.
Designed to create a “first-look” challenge to Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton by substituting the viability standard relied upon in Roe for a junk-science based “fetal pain” standard, this boiler plate legislation is popping up in numerous states, as a vehicle for right-wing extremists racing to the steps of the United State Supreme Court. Peake’s bill treats women as second-class citizens with only marginally more rights than an oven used to bake a cake. He certainly does not credit women with having either a brain or a conscience.
I’m a family therapist and in seventeen years of practice, I have sat with countless women and girls who were struggling with a crisis pregnancy. Not one took the decision about whether or not to continue the pregnancy lightly. Rep. Peake should know that women are also capable of experiencing pain, and that women also deserve the protection of the law. Instead, throughout this bill, Peake carefully protects the rights of fathers and fetuses while trampling on the rights and well-being of women and targeting physicians. In Georgia, unfortunately, chances are good that some version of this bill will pass this year, and the back alley will again be open for business.