Death Warrants (Georgia Abortion Bill)

There’s a bill in Georgia that is going to be introduced next month requiring a mother who is seeking abortion to go to court to obtain a death warrant in order to legally abort the baby. The reasoning behind this is so that unborn baby/fetus has its day in court before it would be aborted.
‘‘It’s an attempt to restore the 14th Amendment due-process rights of the unborn.’’ said Rep. Bobby Franklin, R-Marietta.

Not to make this thread about abortions, but I’m curious about this death warrant thing. When did it become constitutional to have death warrants? Let’s just say this bill passes. Someone goes through the rigamoral to get an abortion and does so. Wouldn’t that set a precedent that if I disliked my neighbor Bob enough I could prove it in court that I could have a death warrant issued on him? Is this just an asinine bill because of its future ramifications (not to mention its current ideals)?

I’ll also steer clear of the abortion issue. From that article it sounds to me as if they are equating the “death warrant” in this situation to the warrant issued by the State to proceed with an execution in criminal cases. In that context I don’t think it would set precedent for you to get Bob killed. It seems bizarre, frankly, but it sounds to me like they are trying (at least) to word this thing in a very narrow context; to the extent you can’t get a death warrant against Bob under the same laws that allow for execution in capital cases, you wouldn’t be able to using this law either.

In that case, shouldn’t slaughterhouses have to obtain death warrants before butchering cattle in order to restore 14th Amendment due-process rights to bovine beings?

A death warrant is an order from a court giving permission to end a life (in some cases, ordering it). The Fourteenth Amendment gives constitutional basis to what had been a common law institution… “shall not deprive [anyone] of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

While ordinarily one would only run into them in connection with a capital trial, they can be (and I believe are) used when a judge approves “turning off the machine” in a DNR situation, etc.

It’s in some way a very sane middle stance, recognizing the right of the pregnant woman to manage her own body but allowing for due consideration of the at-least-potential rights of the fetus to be allowed to occupy that body in order to preserve its right to live, for it to be used in hearings on abortions. From the POV of the “balancing” justices who believe in weighing the comparative rights of plaintiff and respondent where conflicting rights are claimed at trial or in appeal, it’s almost an ideal solution.

30 days? Yeah, right. Like the courts don’t have anything better to do with their time. And if “either side can appeal” then presumably it’ll take another 30 or so days (should the mother “win”, and I put that in quotes because no one is winning squat here), plus another 30 for a possible next appeal to the highest court in the state? It seems that what this really is is just a stalling tactic to ensure that no abortion is in fact ever carried out.

I guess the real issue in my mind is the potential unequal treatment in the jury trial. I don’t really know the demographics for Georgia but I would imagine that there would be some areas where the outcome would always be for the woman and some areas where the outcome would always be against her. Also if the jury must be unanimous then there are other problems entirely.

I don’t see this passing SC muster even if it were to pass into law. The idea of making a fetus a citizen of the US under the 14th Amendment is certainly unique; but I wonder if the trustee could also get an injunction making the woman stop drinking coffee and make her excercise more?

Hmmmm…I’ll agree. Circle gets the square!

Slaves weren’t considered citizens, but they still had some rights under the law. So it’s not without some logical basis that one might extend that. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Of course, putting aside my opinion on abortion, it seems a touch inflammatory to call it a “death” warrant…but if that’s what they’re called historically, then I suppose it’s all pretty cool with me.

Political posturing.

This bill will never pass, and even if it did, it would be struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the US, or by the Supreme Court of Georgia (which leans to the left).

It’s obvious that the proposed law is intended to postpone a woman’s abortion until after her pregnancy has come to term, or at least until after the first trimester has passed. (A trial within thirty days? Ha. An appeal completed within a couple of months after that? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Have you seen the clogged dockets of Georgia’s courts?)

And since there’s no way a petition for a death warrant could be fully litigated within three months, the proposed law would have the practical effect of blocking the right of a woman within the first trimester to abort her fetus (that right being delineated by the Supreme Court of the US in Roe v. Wade). Ergo, the law would be unconstitutional.

It would seem that a law like that would be unconstitutional. To the best of my understanding, Roe says that a pregnant woman has the right in the first trimester to abort, and its outside the scope of state power to prevent her. This bill would require her to justify her decision to a court.

Not hardly. As far as I know, in the antebellum South, a slaveowner had every right to kill his own slave(s) any time he wanted to, without having to get State permission.

There was a (short) time between the ratification of the 13th and 14th Amendments when Southern states refused to grant citizenship to former slaves. Perhaps these were the non-citizens-with-some-rights you were thinkin of?

I should hope there’s a statute of limitations on these death warrants. I’d hate to be in the position where I’ve just been promoted to senior vice-president of IntelCorp and find out that my mom has a death warrant on me and decided to drop the axe now.

I must disagree with you, Poly. It’s an obvious attempt to get the fetus declared a living human being from the date of conception.

good evening friends,

if i may point out, the article linked was from world net daily, which isn’t really a pefect example of objective and unbiased reporting, and i have heard more than a few charges of false reporting

ok, longhair, here’s another one GARAL

and here’s a link to a copy of the bill NARAL
That should balance it out.

My senior research paper as an undergrad was on slave laws in the antebellum south. I’m very familiar with them. There were in fact many enumerated rights held by slaves, listed in state law. Louisiana was the best, they named many things to which slaves had rights, mostly having to do with living conditions. Other states each had some law about treatment of slaves.

Now, in practice, these laws were rarely enforced. At least, the courts attitude towards treatment of slaves fluctuated with the conditions at the time, proximity in time to the major slave uprisings (Nat Turner, Vesey), and other factors. The laws were on the books however, and at least on paper slaves had some rights. The law recognized a duality (a fatally inconsistent duality, had it been allowed to fester long enough) between the slave-as-person and slave-as-property. Court behaviour was inconsistent, bouncing between those theories, but it was not universally in favor of treating slaves as merely property.

So there’s precedent for treating a fetus as more than property, something with some rights, but not yet a citizen. Whether this dual treatment would be as ill-fated in the long run as the courts’ treatment of slaves, whether it could survive as a viable legal doctrine, who can say?

thanks for the links. i did notice from the pdf file that there was only one signature on the proposal. is there a great deal of support for this bill? what are the chances of this making its way onto the legislative agenda for a floor vote?

Wow. I am mostly pro-life and that is the most asinine bill I have ever heard of. How in the world could the court system in GA possibly handle that? There justice system is already over stressed. http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/082402/new_20020824022.shtml

If you read the OP’s link it seems most obviously to me an attempt to get doctors to stop performing abortions.

This bill, if passed, would not pass constitutional muster.

it seems rather plain to me that this is an attempt to undermine the basis (i think) that abortion is allowable, namely that a collection of cells just after conception is not equivalent to a human being, being no more alive than a collection of skin cells. if you hold that it’s their potential to become human, then you would have to prosecute people who abstain from sex, since their cells aren’t doing anyone any good. anyway, on to the bill.

if this is passed, then it legally establishes an awful precedent for the pro-choice crowd. one can see it easily being taken a step further and making it homicide. not to mention the court’s troubles handling it, the now-much-more-likely-mother-to-be’s court fees, and the time it would take.

i too think this would swiftly be struck down as unconstitutional, as an attempt to undermine roe v. wade. or it least i hope that would happen, should this ever make it to law.

God. Not again.

  1. Whatever your feelings on the “human” or “personhood” status of the zygote/embryo/fetus…it IS alive.

  2. The vast majority of elective abortions are not performed on zygotes “just after conception”…so it’s silly to be discussing public policy about such an activity.

I’m not real familiar with the notion of what a “death warrant” is…so can’t speak to that portion of the debate.