Thursday, February 25, 2010

Utah bill poised to criminalize miscarriage

In the bizarre legislative body of Utah (which recently proposed to honor gun manufacturers on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and considered eliminating 12th grade to save $), the Senate has joined the House in allowing homicide charges against expectant mothers who arrange illegal abortions....or who have miscarriages, either through "reckless" acts or by intentionally arranging for termination of their pregnancies.


According to Lynn M. Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Utah's proposed law is designed to be punitive toward pregnant women, not those who might assist or cause an illegal abortion or unintended miscarriage (such as a battering husband who assaults his wife). Instead, the victim could be charged with criminal homicide for "allowing" a miscarriage to occur. The bill criminalizes any actions taken by women to induce a miscarriage or abortion outside of a doctor's care, with penalties including up to life in prison.


So theoretically, if a woman rides on Splash Mountain at Disneyworld...or falls down the stairs carelessly...or doesn't give up smoking, she could be held legally responsible if she has a miscarriage caused by her "reckless" behavior. "This creates a law that makes any pregnant woman who has a miscarriage potentially criminally liable for murder," says Missy Bird, executive direct of Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Utah. The standard is so broad, Bird says, "there nothing in the bill to exempt a woman for not wearing her seatbelt who got into a car accident."

I used two "abortion" procedures after two of my miscarriages--I had a D&C once, and another time I used medication prescribed by my doctor. In both instances, the embryo had died. (In my other two miscarriages, I just let nature take its course, but in retrospect I think the D&C was the easiest course for a most difficult time in my life.) As this blogger writes, what's next? Make every miscarriage a crime?

If you think this is insane, please help spread the word about this bizarre proposal. Activists in Salt Lake City have said that the only hope of stopping this from becoming a law is national media attention and widespread public outcry. Tell someone about this law right now. Post this on Facebook. Tweet it. Forward it to five friends. And ask them all to do the same.

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