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Congressman proposes anti-abortion bill to define life as beginning at conception

If passed, it could also possibly criminalize miscarriage.


Jaya Saxena


Published Jan 23, 2017   Updated May 25, 2021, 3:53 am CDT

Sen. Jody Hice (R–Ga.) has introduced a house bill that would define life as beginning at conception, which if passed, would violate Roe v. Wade, essentially make all abortion illegal, and could potentially put women who have miscarriages in danger.

The bill was introduced on Jan. 17, three days before Trump’s inauguration, and has 20 cosponsors (all Republican). Hice has made opposing abortion a large part of his political platform, writing on his website, “His bill defines life as beginning at conception without exception. If enacted, it would end the plight of abortion on our nation.”

Scientists, politicians, religious leaders, and pro-abortion activists have long argued over when “life” begins. Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 protected the right to have an abortion until fetal viability outside the womb, which typically occurs around 24 weeks. Some say the Bible defines life not as beginning with a heartbeat, but with the first breath. The concept of “life” is largely a metaphor, involving philosophical questions of consciousness and agency that have made this debate difficult to legislate on. 

It seems unlikely that a bill that’s in direct opposition to a Supreme Court ruling could be passed, though overturning SCOTUS decisions can happen. Given that Purvi Patel was charged with felony “feticide” for having a miscarriage, the bill is concerning to anyone who would ever want an abortion, supports someone else’s choice to have an abortion, or wants to protect people who have miscarriages.

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*First Published: Jan 23, 2017, 11:00 am CST