Thursday, February 25, 2010

On: Miscarriages and the New Front on Abortion

A most troubling piece of legislature is on its way to being ratified in Utah. Having passed both its House and Senate, the only thing in the way now is the signature of the governor and this being Utah, well...

The bill, HB12, will criminalize all miscarriages in Utah, even accidental, with up to life in prison. And while Utah has never been know for its moderate politics, this bill nonetheless sets a troubling example and carries chilling implications for every woman in America of child-bearing age.

The bill was inspired by a pregnant 17-year old, who paid $150 for a man to beat her stomach to try to miscarry. Clearly, she did not want the child, but had no legal alternative in Utah and no other means. Well, she failed, carried the child, and gave it up to adoption at birth. Yet, when her extreme measure was discovered, the authorities tried to try her for attemptet murder. But, at the time, the state could not actually charge her under the circumstances.

Instead of highlighting the obvious need for educating people about protection, or safe and legal abortions, the state decided to close the legal loophole they missed by going after the already traumatized and desperate women. They did not care why this woman was desperate enough to PAY for a stranger to BEAT her to force a miscarriage. They didn't care if the pregnancy was an accident, or maybe was the result of rape of if the child's father was her uncle - she should have had that fetus! In essence, by becoming pregnant, all her personal, human rights were trumped by a clump of cells in her stomach.

Clearly, the greater crime here is the denial of the choice and the desperation this denial causes. But in Utah, the desperation is instead made criminal. In Utah, it is assumed that every pregnancy is wanted. However, the bill is even more worrying because it punishes "reckless behavior that leads to miscarriage."

How do you define reckless? What constitutes reckless varies from person to person and imagine: if you are pregnant, don't wear a seat-belt and then are in an accident which leads to miscarriage, were you being reckless? What if your boyfriend is abusive, gets drunk and beats you, causing a miscarriage. Were you being reckless by staying, knowing full well that his drinking is a danger to the fetus? Or what if you fall down the stairs and miscarry, like a woman in Iowa, who was then investigated as to whether the fall was intentional? Under the bill, any of these are punishable with up to life in prison and the woman in Iowa was only set free because she was in her second, not third, trimester.

And at all times, the woman is secondary to her fetus and with this bill, the state of Utah is legally telling its female residents that so long as there's a fetus in them, they are nothing more than ovens.

This message is dangerous because it represents a whole new country for the anti-life, anti-woman fanatics to explore. Imagine the possibilities! If miscarriage is criminalized once, other states may follow. Even if they don't, this is another bullet to add to their arsenal, another means to push the fire-spitting, ignorant masses against Roe vs. Wade and with it, another step towards an America I'd rather not imagine.

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