If Georgia criminalizes miscarriage, will used tampons become evidence?

You know a bill is bad when completely outlawing abortion is not even the worst of it.

The Georgia bill, proposed by Rep. Bobby “rape victims aren’t victims” Franklin, would make abortion a felony, potentially punishable by death, and require that all miscarriages be investigated to ensure they were not caused by any “human involvement whatsoever.”

Now Franklin is known as an extreme fringe politician and, obviously, a bill that makes a legal, medical procedure a crime punishable by death is going nowhere fast. (I hope, at least–these days it really does feel like any fresh new horror is possible.)

But I still think it’s important to highlight bills like this because they illustrate the inherent misogyny of the anti-choice position. Since Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, all that talk of “choosing life” and “saving babies” and “God loves kids” cupcakes can sometimes feel a little abstract. But this is truly what a perfect anti-choice law looks like. As Jen Phillips writes at Mother Jones, “Basically, it’s everything an “pro-life” activist could want aside from making all women who’ve had abortions wear big red “A”s on their chests.”

Just imagine a world in which women who have abortions are felons, every miscarriage is treated as a potential crime, and you remember that the anti-choice movement really does believe that women lose all their rights once they become pregnant. As Lynn Paltrow of National Advocates for Pregnant Women said recently on GRITtv,

“[Anti-choice laws] effectively legally separate eggs, embryos, and fetuses from pregnant women. And once you do that, prosecutors, doctors, local legislators can literally take custody of a pregnant woman and say you have to get bed rest, you may not work. You lose your personhood, not just your right to choose abortion.”

Of course, given that almost a quarter of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and doctors themselves don’t really know what causes them, I’m not sure Rep. Franklin really knows what’s he’s getting himself into. Furthermore, 50% of fertilized eggs don’t implant at all and are unwittingly flushed out when you get your period. Thankfully, Jill Filipovic has decided to help him out by offering up her used tampons as evidence.

“I would like to be sure that I am not killing any more Georgia citizens — and that if I am, they are able to receive a proper funeral and not a burial at sea, and that our state police can dedicate valuable time and resources to investigating their deaths.

To that end, I attach a picture of my latest used tampon. I am preserving this tampon, as well as all of my other tampons, pads, feminine hygiene products and soiled panties from my current menstrual cycle, so that the Georgia State Police can come collect them as evidence. I would also be happy to drop the specimens off at your office, should you want to examine them yourself.”

I suggest we all do the same.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

Read more about Maya

Join the Conversation