Abortion is a divisive enough issue without the media telling outright lies about it. And that’s exactly what Business Insider did with Georgia’s new “heartbeat” bill.
Here was the headline from its article on the bill last Friday: “Women could get up to 30 years in prison for having a miscarriage under Georgia’s harsh new abortion law.”
“On Tuesday, Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia signed HB 481, a bill banning abortion after five to six weeks of pregnancy,” one of the story’s bullet points read.
“It’s set to take effect January 1, but at least two reproductive-rights organizations are challenging it on the grounds that it violates Roe v. Wade,” another adds.
“In addition to banning abortion after a heartbeat can be detected, the law’s personhood provisions would seem to allow for women who perform their own abortions, travel out of state for an abortion, or are found to be responsible for a miscarriage to be charged with murder.”
Later in the article, writer Grace Panetta cited a Slate piece in saying that “[s]tate prosecutors, for example, might be able to charge women whose pregnancies end in miscarriage with second-degree murder, which carries a sentence of 10 to 30 years, if they can prove the miscarriage was a result of the woman’s own conduct, like drug or alcohol use.”
However, the evidence for that doesn’t actually seem to be mentioned in the bill.
Abortion, for instance, is defined as “the act of using, prescribing, or administering any instrument, substance, device, or other means with the purpose to terminate a pregnancy with knowledge that termination will, with reasonable likelihood, cause the death of an unborn child; provided, however, that any such act shall not be considered an abortion if the act is performed with the purpose of (A) Removing a dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion; or (B) Removing an ectopic pregnancy.”
Miscarriage, meanwhile, is mentioned only once: “‘Spontaneous abortion’ means the naturally occurring death of an unborn child, including a miscarriage or stillbirth,” the bill reads.
Breadcrumbing this back to the Slate piece, the logic seems to be that the bill defines a fetus as a person and that Georgia’s second-degree murder statute states (among other things) that “[a] person commits the offense of murder in the second degree when, in the commission of cruelty to children in the second degree, he or she causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.”
However, the bill deals with deliberate abortion — and miscarriage is specifically defined as a “spontaneous abortion,” an act which is specifically exempted from punishment. It’s incredibly clear. There shouldn’t be an iota of doubt here. The law actually protects women who miscarry.
This feels like a mephitic game of telephone. The Slate article, by Mark Joseph Stern, seems to look at the worst-case scenarios without regard to facts, at least regarding the miscarriage angle.
However, Business Insider decided to make this angle the focus of an entire article on the Georgia heartbeat bill, misinterpreting the misinterpretation further at an additional step of remove.
This is totally erroneous and should be retracted — yet, I have the feeling it won’t be.
Nobody ought to pretend that the Georgia bill isn’t controversial.
There’s plenty in it that’s going to spark debate, and pro-life advocates ought to realize that.
There’s enough there that the media doesn’t have to actively lie about what’s in the legislation, though.
You won’t go to jail for having a miscarriage. You won’t be spending 30 years in prison for some sort of “spontaneous abortion” — even if you were drinking alcohol or using drugs, something that’s not mentioned in Business Insider’s very misleading headline.
None of these things will happen.
All of this is merely a scare tactic. And it’s a scare tactic that you’re going to see a lot of now that the abortion debate is back on the national agenda.
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