What Do You Get The Fetus Who Has Everything? A Lawyer

What Do You Get The Fetus Who Has Everything? A Lawyer

The great progressive state of Alabama has a new law requiring minors who want an abortion to undergo a trial where they can be questioned about their decision by a lawyer appointed by the court to represent their fetus. Which is the sort of law you pass when your legislature is run by either insane people or conservatives. But we repeat ourselves.

The law, which the American Civil Liberties Union has asked a judge to stop, is a sneaky way of complicating judicial bypass hearings for minors seeking abortions. In brief, the Supreme Court ruled in 1979’s Bellotti v. Baird that any state that requires parental consent for a minor to have an abortion (like Alabama) must also provide another option for any teens who fear parental abuse or have cut off contact with their parents, or been thrown out of their homes for being filthy whores who spread their legs for half the high school football team, you Jesus-hating tramp, HELEN.

Ahem. Hence judicial bypass hearings, which are supposed to be swift and non-confrontational. Which sucks for anti-abortion folks, who love to badger, shame and bully any woman seeking an abortion, even if that woman is 15 years old, terrified, alone, cut off from her family, with only the word of a stranger from the ACLU working pro bono on her case to comfort her.

Turns out, though, that even before this law was passed, “Puppetry of the Fetus” was a long-running show in Alabama. It began in the courtroom of state Judge Walter Mark Anderson III, who all through the 1990s would appoint fetal legal representation for judicial bypass hearings on his docket. Anderson would often turn to Julian McPhillips, a Birmingham lawyer who later lost the Democratic nomination for senator in 2002, thereby depriving us of having a conservative anti-abortion nutbar Democrat maybe replacing conservative anti-abortion nutbar Jeff Sessions in Washington. Democracy, it’s a hell of a thing.

Anyway, McPhillips represented fetuses in dozens of hearings, which led to head-shaking exchanges with the teens he cross-examined like this one, printed in a 1999 article in The Nation:

McPhillips: You say that you are aware that God instructed you not to kill your own baby, but you want to do it anyway? And are you saying here today that notwithstanding everything that you want to interfere with God's plan for your baby?

Minor: I think that is between me and God.

McPhillips: And you are not concerned after you have had the abortion that some day you may wake up and say my gosh, what have I done to my own baby?

Minor: It may happen.

McPhillips: You are not worried about being haunted by this? Here you have the chance to save the life of your own baby.... And still you want to go ahead and snuff out the life of your own baby?

Minor: Yes.

Jesus H. Christ running a Planned Parenthood clinic, he even went ahead and named the seven-week-old fetus “Baby Ashley” to try to guilt this poor 17-year-old into opting out of an abortion. At least he didn’t call the fetus to “testify” on its own behalf, like the Ohio legislature did in 2011. Smash the patriarchy!

In the 1999 case, Judge Anderson actually ruled in favor of the teen, but two other judges in Alabama followed his lead and started appointing fetal representation for bypass hearings in their own courts. The new law would allow for not just the appointment of fetal representation, but for that lawyer to call witnesses -– boyfriends, parents, teachers, the godly neighbor who thinks the girl dresses too slutty -– to testify against her and her ability to make an informed decision on her own about terminating a pregnancy. Because what fun is a constitutional right if you can’t first bully and humiliate the person trying to exercise it?

Oh well, at least Alabama isn’t trying to hang teenagers for aborting their precious Jesus snowflake babbies. Yet.

[Mother Jones]


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