DEBATING HOUSE BILL 360 – PLAYING GAMES WITH LIFE
by David Sisler
“That which we call a rose,” the Bard once wrote, “ by another name would smell as sweet.”
In one of life’s great ironies, that line is from Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s immortal tale of young love and young lovers. I say it is ironic, because in the great, never-ending debate about abortion and saving the lives of babies – and how do babies get here if it is not for lovers, young and old – each side labels the other with characterizations calculated to make its viewpoint look good and its opponents look rotten.
For instance, we are “Pro-life,” they are “Pro-death.” We are “Anti-abortion,” they are “Anti-life.” They say they are “Pro-choice,” and we are “Anti-choice.”
Since the legislative session of the year 2000 the Georgia House of Representatives has been trying to protect the lives of newborn babies from being abandoned to death by their mothers. Since the legislative session of the year 2000 the Georgia Senate has been seeing to it that additional babies continue to die because of abandonment. The House passes and the Senate votes against or tables the vote.
Another death can be added to the count – the body of baby found Friday, March 15, 2002, on the lawn of a Thomson apartment complex.
Earlier this month the Senate was set to vote on House Bill 360 (passed by the House last session, removing criminal action against a mother who gives her newborn to a recognized health care center) when Senator Mike Beatty (R-Jefferson) handed in a substitute bill which would require abortion doctors to counsel and educate women about the dangers of abortion.
No sooner had Beatty offered his “Women’s Right to Know” amendment, than his colleagues immediately killed debate on the safe haven bill. They did not want to risk casting an anti-abortion vote in an election year. Another date for debate and voting was set and then cancelled – same reason.
Teen pregnancies are at their lowest rate in 60 years, but the number of abandoned babies is rising (according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). In 1998, the last year for which statistics are available, there were 108 abandoned babies, nearly double the number at the beginning of the decade.
“For every baby that's found, think about those [who] were successfully drowned or buried, lost forever,” said Mary Winter, a director at Mom’s House on Pittsburgh’s North Side.
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 5 percent of infant homicides occur during the first day of life. The highest risks are associated with mothers who are younger than 15 years old.
Before we say that Georgia’s majority Democrats are playing games with life, may we ask, if Senator Beatty has been trying to get his “Women’s Right to Know” proposal passed for a decade, and he says that he has, why was his substitute bill not introduced into the measure last year or the year before – when he was not an announced candidate for lieutenant governor? Is there any reason that Beatty would risk this life-saving bill in an election year, other than perhaps to further his own bid for lieutenant governor?
Glancing into my crystal ball I can see it now, “I stood tall against the pro-death forces and look what THEY did!”
Beatty says he will cancel his amendment if the Senate will hold committee hearings on his bill. Beatty says he is not using the amendment to further his political goals. Then let him cancel the amendment now while the Senate is in a mood to pass this life-saving legislation.
Take the high road, Senator. Women exposed to a lecture about risks may still kill their babies. But the “Safe Place for Newborns Act” is a guaranteed life-saver.
Copyright 2002 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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