Incrementalism, Georgia Style

We’ve warned about incrementalism.

Incrementalism is a sneaky ploy used on people whose views on women’s rights in general and abortion in particular lie somewhere between the two poles.

It goes like this: What on earth is wrong with requiring pregnant teenagers to get parental permission for an abortion? What’s the problem with ensuring that pregnant women know what they’re doing when they seek an abortion? Who could possibly object to harsher punishment for someone who harms a wanted fetus?

So, laws get passed. Reasonable-sounding laws that the fundy fetus fetishists twist to their purposes.

Here’s a recent example from Georgia. A 16-year-old girl got pregnant. The boyfriend’s mother pretended to be her mother in order for her to have an abortion. Last week, boyfriend’s mother was sentenced to one year in jail — the maximum for a misdemeanor, note — for ‘interfering with custody and violating a parental notification law’.

According to the news report:

Displeased that the baby would ruin her son’s chance of going to college, [Cindi] Cook, 44, pressured the 16-year-old girl to have the abortion in the spring of 2007, found a clinic that would do it without her present, and paid for the procedure, DeKalb Solicitor General Robert James said Wednesday.
. . .
James said his office is now investigating whether the facility — Northside Women’s Clinic in Chamblee — broke a state law that required parental notification when a girl under the age of 18 has an abortion.

The girl has not been identified because she is a minor. But her parents have come out swinging.

More than a year after the abortion, “she’s still struggling with the loss of the baby,” said Fenn Little, her family’s attorney. “She’s getting better, but there’s going to be a lot of counseling and issues that have to be addressed.”

Through their attorney, the girl’s parents issued this statement: “The actions of both Cindi Cook and the Northside Women’s Clinic have affected our daughter’s life with much pain this past year because of the loss of her baby. It was a sense of helplessness. As for us, they took away our right to be there and help our daughter during a time when she needed us most. The outcome of the trial is a positive step forward in the long healing process that we must go through as individuals and as a family.”

(Anybody sense a law-suit coming?)

Here are the rules for getting an abortion in Georgia from LifeShite:

Under Georgia state law, unemancipated minors under the age of 18, who are not married and not in an emergency medical condition, must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at the time of the abortion. The requirement can be waived only if the clinic takes steps outlined in the law to verify that the girl’s parent or legal guardian has been informed.

However, Georgia law also requires that for a “voluntary and informed” abortion, a full 24 hour waiting period is mandated so that a woman seeking an abortion can have plenty of time to consider her decision. A woman must be informed in person or by telephone by the abortionist about the risks of abortion, and read the state’s literature on abortion, fetal pain, and alternatives to abortion, before having an abortion. The woman must also sign a letter saying she is freely consenting to the abortion without coercion.

The girl’s family says she got none of this so-called help.

And now all the fetus fetishists are screeching. Because of course, this just proves again that most abortions are coerced.

We can find no statements from the girl. We don’t know if she felt ‘pressured’ or ‘coerced’.

We do know that a woman is serving one year in prison for helping a pregnant 16-year-old get an abortion. Because the laws are stoooopid.

We wonder whether the good middle-of-the-road voters of Georgia envisioned a woman in prison for one year because of the nice, reasonable-sounding law. Envisioned that a nice, reasonable-sounding law would be twisted in such a way.

Here in Canada, we are facing several attempts at incrementalism, most imminently private member’s Bill C-484, aka The Kicking Abortion’s Ass Bill. Its author, Ken Epp, wants us to trust him when he says it’s not about abortion (but he thinks it’s not such a bad thing if people do think so), when he says the law would never be used to attack abortion rights, never be used to criminalize pregnant women’s behaviour. Trust him.

Well, here’s a selection of Canadian organizations that do not trust him and recognize incrementalism when they see it.

Canadian Bar Association

Canadian Federation of University Women/Fédération canadienne des femmes diplômées des universités

Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Union of Public Employees – CUPE National

Catholics for a Free Choice – Canada

La Federation des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ)

La Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec (FMSQ)

Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH)

Public Service Alliance of Canada

Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada


See the whole list on our Activist Page along with the list of the anti-choice, fundy groups who support it.


  1. says

    We can find no statements from the girl. We don’t know if she felt ‘pressured’ or ‘coerced’.

    I think I can guarantee you that she is feeling “pressured and coerced” now.