The "Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act" (HB 481)—the “heartbeat” bill that I am rebranding as the “Women’s Womb Takeover” bill—passed in the Georgia House of Representatives by just two votes last week. All Democrats present voted against the measure except one, and some Republicans either walked or voted “no.”
This is why I drafted my “testicular bill of rights” and tweeted:
Ggggooooodddd morning! Introducing my "testicular bill of rights" legislative package. You want some regulation of bodies and choice? Done! pic.twitter.com/5E8HBRSc9l
— Dar'shun Kendrick (@DarshunKendrick) March 11, 2019
The gist of the HB 481 bill is to outlaw abortions—a clear violation of Roe v. Wade—clear and simple. It bans abortions once a “heartbeat” has been detected, as early as six weeks.
If you have watched me over the years as a legislator, you know that I am passionate about issues that are important to my district. I can unequivocally say that no other issue gets me motivated to act or makes me more passionate about the fundamental right of women to choose their life and destiny by making choices about their bodies and when to start a family.
Now, obviously this is an emotional issue—it is for me, certainly. I think my colleagues have seen a side of me they have never seen before. And it’s because choosing whether to terminate a pregnancy or not is such a personal issue. So I don’t try to belittle the convictions of those that are pro-life because they have an argument that speaks to their soul just as my convictions speak to mine.
But at the end of the day I will fight tooth and nail to preserve a woman’s right to self-determination and to respect the decisions she makes between her and her doctor.
There are a few observations about the bill I would like to make:
- It’s blatantly unconstitutional. We know that. Everyone knows that. The sponsors know that. This has been proposed so that it will be challenged in court (which it will be) so that it can be a test case for the now conservative leaning U.S. Supreme Court in the hopes that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. Bad strategy, but I am on to it.
- It’s fiscally irresponsible. The bill would count fetuses in the census and on tax returns. So someone carrying multiple children could get tax credits now even though they may not carry all children to full term? How would the Department of Revenue and IRS prove pregnancy and number? Even if it could be proved, do those departments have the infrastructure to handle the influx of requests for deductions and credits?
- It’s legally dubious. If a fetus is counted as a human being, it takes all our existing criminal law statutes to a whole other level. So if someone commits a felony while pregnant or while around a pregnant person, is that child endangerment? Can pregnant women now ride in high-occupancy vehicle lanes? If a pregnant woman who didn’t know she was pregnant dies in a horrific murder, does that unknown pregnancy count as an additional homicide?
So why did I post about drafting my "testicular bill of rights?" It’s simple. To show the absurdity when a woman tries to regulate a man’s body like HB 481 and other anti-choice bills are doing in regulating women’s bodies.
There are some that say “this isn’t a laughing matter” and they are right! Yet, HB 481 was rushed through the committee process, brought on the floor late into the hours of Crossover Day when bills have to pass to the other chamber, and passed the Georgia House of Representatives. So I agree it’s not a laughing matter—but neither is the government telling me when I must have a child.
HB 481 is not done. It’s in the Georgia Senate as I write this opinion. It can still be stopped, I believe. So whether I actually file my “testicular bill of rights” or not, I will continue to work with the Senate to try to stop this heinous, unconstitutional measure that attacks women’s core rights to privacy and family planning. I was elected by 54,000 Georgians to fight for their interests—and I will continue to do so no matter what stands in my way.