Last week, the Georgia Senate gave sanction to a bizarre, destructive and racially condescending conspiracy theory. By a 33-14 vote, it approved a bill that purports to outlaw the attempted genocide of black Americans through abortion.
Under the bill’s language, a health care provider could be convicted of a felony and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for performing an abortion “with the intent to prevent an unborn child from being born based upon the race, color, or gender of the unborn child or the race or color of either parent of that unborn child.”
The bill is inspired by a claim that abortion providers are engaged in a conspiracy to reduce the number of black children born in this country. As Georgia Right to Life has argued in billboards and other outlets, “black children are an endangered species” that need the protection of law against a campaign to eradicate them.
As proof of that campaign’s existence, Georgia Right to Life cites the fact that more than twice as many black women sought abortions in Georgia in 2008 as did white women, even though the state’s population is just 30 percent black.
They do not mention, however, that black women in Georgia also have a pregnancy rate almost twice as high as white women, according to statistics compiled by the Guttmacher Institute. Nor do they point out that the black birth rate in Georgia is about 60 percent higher than for white women.
Those numbers are hardly surprising. The high rate of out-of-wedlock births among black American teenagers represents a continuing cultural, social and economic challenge. Furthermore, liberals and conservatives alike can agree that abortion is not an acceptable solution to that problem.
The best approach is suggested by the fact that in societies around the world, pregnancy rates fall as levels of education and affluence in a community increase.
Until approval of SB 529, the dumbest legislation to pass the House or Senate this year had been a bill to outlaw forced implantation of microchips in human beings, which also passed the Senate. However, while it may rival the genocide-by-abortion bill in terms of weirdness, the microchip bill was at least largely harmless.
The abortion bill, on the other hand, puts the state Senate on record as endorsing the claim that black Americans are being targeted for elimination by health care providers. That’s absurd and flat-out wrong.
Debate over the measure reflected that absurdity. One Republican senator said it was a good thing that Barack Obama’s white mother didn’t choose to abort her pregnancy to avoid the shame of giving birth to a black baby. Sen. Tommie Williams (R-Lyons) argued that without the bill’s provisions criminalizing “coerced abortions,” we could find ourselves following the path of China, where abortions are mandated by government.
Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat, detected “a whiff of mendacity if not hypocrisy” in conservative concern for black Georgians. Perhaps the most telling observation came from Sen. Hardie Davis, a black pro-life Democrat from Augusta.
“Some things,” he said, “cannot be legislated.”
(Davis was among nine senators who did not cast a vote on the final measure.)
There was a time in recent memory when the Senate was considered the more sane of the two chambers. Strange legislation usually emanated from the House and was allowed to die untouched in the more sober-minded Senate. That has clearly changed.
This year, versions of both the microchip and genocide-by-abortions bills were introduced in the House as well as Senate, but House leadership was wise enough to allow both measures to fade away unnoticed.
In the Senate, lunacy reigns.