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Monday, February 28, 2011

A Many Pronged Attack

by digby

I wrote about this right wing Georgia wild man Bobby Franklin a couple of months ago when he proposed that people shouldn't have to be licensed to drive. You may have heard about his recent attempt to criminalize miscarriages. Well Julie Ingersoll has connected the dots on this fine fellow and guess what? He's a Christian Reconstructionist:

Franklin has introduced a bill that lays out a "states' rights" argument that the US Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction to hear Roe v. Wade and that the Court has no constitutional authority to define who is a person and what constitutes murder.

The bill asserts in a preamble: "The State of Georgia has the duty to protect all innocent life from the moment of conception until natural death. We know that life begins at conception." The preamble is the justification for making what Franklin labels "pre-natal murder" illegal. (Georgia isn't the only state taking up new and controversial bills on abortion.)

What makes Franklin's bill different, though, is the provision on miscarriage. Miscarriage is not be considered pre-natal murder "so long as there is no human involvement whatsoever in the causation of such event." There is no indication as to how such a determination is to be made, and critics are charging that the bill would require women who have had miscarriages to provide evidence that they were not at fault, and possibly be subject to criminal investigations by the state.

Franklin's bio on the state legislature’s website claims he "has been called 'the conscience of the Republican Caucus' because he believes that civil government should return to its biblically and constitutionally defined role." That same website has a nifty little option that allows you to sort proposed bills according to their sponsors; so it was easy to get a sense of what he means by government's biblically-defined role.

He sponsored legislation to eliminate restrictions on bringing guns to church and to school. He proposed that the state of Georgia adopt a hard money currency system, and offered a resolution lecturing a state supreme court justice on the difference between a "democracy" and a "republic." He has proposed amending the law so that victims of rape would be referred to as "accusers" rather than "victims" (this applied only to rape and not other crimes, so one couldn't argue it was motivated by preserving the concept of innocent until proven guilty). Franklin has such a "limited view" of government that not only does he oppose public schools but he also thinks the state has no authority to issue driver's licenses.

Right. The state cannot issue driver's licenses but it should regulate miscarriages.

Oh, but there's more on what Franklin thinks is government's "biblically-defined role." Franklin is a member of Chalcedon Presbyterian Church, one of the few out-and-out Christian Reconstructionist churches. Featured in Bill Moyers' 1992 documentary God in Politics: On Earth As It Is In Heaven, Chalcedon Presbyterian is pastored by Joseph Morecraft, a regular lecturer at American Vision and Vision Forum events. And all of the proposed legislation noted above has roots in Christian Reconstructionist teachings or the culture of Reconstructionist-oriented biblical patriarchy.

Read on for the details.

There are quite a few of these people in politics and the right wing is electing more and more of them as they take over the Republican party. It is not some fringe part of the movement anymore as Mother Jones reveals in this story about how these "justifiable homicide" bills are cropping up all over the country:

That these measures have emerged simultaneously in a handful of states is no coincidence. It's part of a campaign orchestrated by a Washington-based anti-abortion group, which has lobbied state lawmakers to introduce legislation that it calls the "Pregnant Woman's Protection Act" [PDF]. Over the past two years, the group, Americans United for Life, has succeeded in passing versions of this bill in Missouri and Oklahoma. But there's a big difference between those bills and the measures floated recently in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa.


AUL's efforts to expand justifiable homicide statutes are part of a broader push by social conservatives to advance the political front lines on abortion and other social issues. After Republicans won the House of Representatives and swept to almost unprecedented state-level success in November, social conservatives were invigorated. Since state and federal legislative sessions began in January, they have pushed GOP lawmakers to introduce scores of bills aimed at promoting what they call a "culture of life."

That effort hasn't failed to stir up controversy. At the federal level, House Republicans have attempted to limit the circumstances under which the government would pay for abortions to cases of "forcible rape," a measure that was eventually dropped after it caused a national furor in January. Since then, cuts in federal funding for family planning, proposals specifically outlawing funding for Planned Parenthood, a Georgia bill that could criminalize some miscarriages, and the series of AUL-backed bills allowing for justifiable homicide in defense of a fetus have all helped put the culture wars back on the nation's front pages. With conservatives riding a wave of 2010 success and anti-Obama feeling into the 2012 elections, anti-abortion forces are just getting started.

There is an impulse among many liberal wonks and activists to flinch in the face of this sort of right wing assault and perversely shame those who try to raise awareness of it. I certainly heard my fill of it during the last election where my worries about a teabag revolution were met with eye rolling and derision from more than a few of my colleagues. My hope was that my fears would come to nothing, but at this point I think the evidence shows that the Big Money Boyz have decided to keep their rubes (who were always just as socially conservative as "fiscally" conservative) happy while they implement their Disaster Capitalist program.

Unfortunately, there will probably be a temptation for some Democrats to think that they will settle for these "less important" culture war items in exchange for letting up on the economic side and offer them up in negotiations. (Or that there are only so many fronts on which Democrats can fight so, let's let these go.) But everyone should know by now that when you give right wingers an inch, they take a mile. They want it all. And if push really comes to shove history shows that the Republicans will stab the social conservatives in the back long before they'll sell out the plutocrats, so there's really no point.

When I see someone like Richard Mellon Scaife criticizing the Republicans for going after Planned Parenthood, I realize that we are the proverbial frogs in slowly boiling water. The right has become very, very extreme and they are backed by big money and own one of the two major political parties in this country. And yet I haven't yet seen much visceral reaction from the policy elites aside from the usual pooh-poohing of the hysterical hippies Cassandra crones like myself.

Maybe Wisconsin and other grassroots reactions around the country will wake them up. I hope so. And I certainly hope that when they do, they realize that there is no "common ground" with people who want to criminalize miscarriage. They have declared all-out war.