UPDATE: 27 April 2012 –
As they say legally, “mea maxima culpa“. I made a mistake here, so please accept my apologies.
My friend Richard called me on it in the comments, and he’s right. I’ll be making a new post on this over the weekend, and will link to it from here when done.
For now, know that this law does not criminalize a woman’s actions (or omission of action) toward the fetus.
The rest of this post will stay here, as a lesson on letting emotions overcome reason.
You know, when I posted “If Abortion is Murder, then Coffee is Manslaughter“, I had several people tell me that I was being silly. That my little fictional story was merely a “slippery slope fallacy” not worth taking seriously.
Well, let me be the first to say, “I told you so”.
The Tennessee House last week voted 80-18 to make miscarriage — or the killing of any fertilized egg — murder. Last night, the Tennessee Senate passed by a 28-2 margin a companion version of the bill. The bill specifically includes all embryos “at any state of gestation in utero.” Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Haslam has not indicated if he will sign the bill.
To be clear, this bill goes further than covering, say, a violent attacker harming an expectant mother who then, unfortunately, miscarries. This bill, House Bill 3517 and the Senate’s companion, makes anyone’s actions that presumably cause a miscarriage murder. Opponents of the bill question how law enforcement would actually enforce this law or determine if someone’s action was a direct cause of a miscarriage.
This bill removes the “viability requirement” that currently exists for protecting fetuses. In other words, it doesn’t matter if the fetus is “viable” – that it can survive outside of the womb with medical attention – it doesn’t even matter if the fetus, or the fertalized ovum, would never become viable – for example if the blastocyst failed to implant.
If the Prosecutor thinks that he or she can make the case against a woman who miscarries due to second-hand smoke, or job stress, or for even “ordering and consuming three ‘Doppio Espresso’ drinks” at Starbucks, then that prosecutor could bring murder – or at least manslaughter – charges against the mother of that zygote.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but this is a BATSHIT INSANE bill! No matter what the intent is, the actual outcome would be to force women of child bearing age into a special class, where high stress jobs are denied to them, where they are not allowed to roam anywhere or participate in any activity that might endanger their possible fetus. Because doing so would leave them liable for possible murder charges.
This law provides prosecutors the ability to expand liability beyond the mother, so it may be that others around the woman in question could join in with murder or manslaughter charges. The clerk that hands the woman that espresso, the boss at the high stress job, the trainer at the gym could all possibly be held liable at the discretion of the Prosecutor.
What if the woman miscarries after going to target practice at the local shooting range? Could another shooting range customer be charged with manslaughter for that? Will there be a multiplier on his sentence due to the use of a gun?
“Oh no, that’s crazy talk!” Yes, you might think that, but when I first wrote about coffee being equal to manslaughter I was told THAT was crazy, and yet here is a bill that would criminalize that!
This isn’t a “slippery slope fallacy” – because we have evidence right here that politicians are trying to actually create this greased slope toward the removal of the basic human rights. This isn’t paranoia – it is actually being attempted.
This is what Lewis Black calls, “Fuck Nuts Crazy”. Pure and simple.