Meet Stacey Abrams.
As Georgia’s House minority leader, Abrams is one of the few things standing between the women of Georgia and some of the strangest and most awful antiabortion laws we’ve ever seen. Happily, she’s also “the smartest person in the Georgia legislature,” according Leola Reis, vice president for external affairs at Planned Parenthood Southeast in Atlanta. Since she’s been in office, she’s been quick and vocal in explaining how a string of proposed abortion restrictions would affect women.
Abrams has her hands full. Especially today, which is “crossover day,” the last day a bill can move from either the Georgia House or Senate into the other chamber. From the way Georgia political veterans tell it, anything can happen. I believe them.
After all, the state has already brought us a bill that would allow women who miscarry to be prosecuted. Under that gem, sponsored by Rev. Bobby Franklin, women who have miscarriages and are unable to prove there was no “human involvement” could face felony charges and life in prison.
The only comfort I have in thinking about this ridiculous provision is that, were it to ever become law, I’m pretty sure the woman I know who has experienced nine miscarriages—each more devastating than the one before it—would personally track down Franklin and shred him.
The good news is that Franklin’s proposal, which is blatantly unconstitutional, would outlaw all abortions as well as IVF, and has been proposed to no effect in previous years, has virtually no chance of passing.
The bad news is that while many of us have been spending precious time and energy pondering it, abortion opponents in Georgia have been cooking up other bizarre bills, some of which now have far better chances of succeeding than Franklin’s.
Enter Georgia State Senator Barry Loudermilk, the author of what may be the strangest antiabortion bill to come out of Georgia yet, which is really saying something. I’ve been calling his most recent proposal the sue-if-you’re-displeased-with-her-choice bill. (It doesn’t have a better name yet, since, as far as I can tell, it’s the first of its kind to reach a legislative body.)
Loudermilk’s bill, which is being considered today, would allow a woman—or the members of her own family, including an abusive husband—to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a doctor who has performed an abortion. The bill spells out that the damages for the wrongful death of the fetus would be equal to those for an adult person. And it would allow the suits even if the doctors involved followed all laws regarding abortion and if the women involved don’t consent to the suit. [Editor’s note: Loudermilk’s bill, SB 210, passed through Georgia’s senate in the evening of March 16, and now moves to the state’s House.]