Georgia Legislator Behind Bill Criminalizing Miscarriage is Christian Reconstructionist

Controversial Georgia state Rep. Bobby Franklin is under fire again for a bill many believe could criminalize miscarriages. Even Fox News seems shocked at the idea.

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.  

Just a nut, you say? Well I wouldn’t argue that point, but his district has continued to send him to represent them since 1996.  

jingerso@unf.edu'

Julie Ingersoll is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Florida. She is the author of Evangelical Christian Women: War Stories in the Gender Battles and is currently writing a book on the influence of Christian Reconstructionism.