Thursday, February 15, 2007

Death Certificates for Aborted Fetuses?

I just saw this at Bible Belt Blogger:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Legislation introduced in Tennessee would require death certificates for aborted fetuses, which likely would create public records identifying women who have abortions.

Rep. Stacey Campfield, a Republican, said his bill would provide a way to track how many abortions are performed. He predicted it would pass in the Republican-controlled Senate but would have a hard time making it through the Democratic House.

"All these people who say they are pro-life _ at least we would see how many lives are being ended out there by abortions," said Campfield.

The number of abortions reported to the state Office of Vital Records is already publicly available. The office collects records _ but not death certificates _ on abortions and the deaths of fetuses after 22 weeks gestation or weighing about 1 pound.

The identities of the women who have abortions are not included in those records, but death certificates include identifying information such as Social Security numbers.

Campfield's bill, introduced Monday, would give abortion providers 10 days following an "induced termination of a pregnancy" to file a death certificate.

House Judiciary Chairman Rob Briley, a Democrat, called Campfield's proposal "the most preposterous bill I've seen" in an eight-year legislative career.


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I know, I know... I should be doing my homework right now. I've still got some work to do before my Paradigms in Christian Mission class starts, two hours from now. But before I finish that, I've simply got to say something about this.

Like proposed "fetal homicide" laws, this bill is simply a pretense, I think, to smuggle in a concept of personhood beginning before birth. It is also a shameless attempt to bully scared pregnant women who are agonizing over whether or not to terminate their pregnancy. It is simply a cheap political stunt, aiming to sidestep the legal debate over abortion. It also - if passed - stands to do a great deal of harm.

The worst part about this bill, if the AP article is any indication, is its dishonesty. Rep. Campfield, the sponsor of the bill, states that its purpose is to "see how many lives are being ended out there by abortions." But, as the article notes, there are already available statistics on the number of abortions being performed in the state of Tennessee, and everywhere else, for that matter. With the click of my mouse I can access the information that Rep. Campfield claims this bill will provide to the state. I find it very hard that he, a Representative in the Tennessee House, needs a new law - a law that, incidentally will also provide recognition of the personhood of aborted fetuses and make public the identities of women who have had abortions - to obtain information that I can access from the computer in my basement.

2 comments:

Brian said...

I heard a report on NPR's All Things Considered about this yesterday. Here's the link:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7407248

The story portrayed the death certificate laws being debated in some states as originally intended to give death certificates to stillborn children. Hospital policies in most places are to give death certificates for stillborn babies, but not issue birth certificates, since they were never born (at least, not alive). The mothers of stillborn babies mobilized and got bills introduced to grant their children birth certificates as well.

Anti-abortion advocates then swooped in like parasitic opportunists and, seeing the potential for using laws like this to grant legal quasi-personhood for nonviable fetuses, decided to push laws like these.

The NPR story had an interview with a woman who was at the forefront of the stillborn-birth-certificate law; she lamented the fact that her bill has gotten caught up in the abortion war, and she sounded sincere to me.

Sandalstraps said...

Brian,

Thanks - I'll have to check that story out this weekend.