Criminalizing Miscarriages?1 February, 2010
On of the things I admire* about the radical religious right wackos is their ability to get you coming or going. First, they fight tooth and nail against any possibility of teaching our children actual facts about reproduction, sex, and all of the various ways to prevent pregnancy (abstinence, condoms, birth control pills, sponges, aspirin, IUDs). Then, if a girl and boy do what teenagers do and (because they have been lied to about the effectiveness of birth control) she gets a little bit preggers, they make it as difficult as possible to get a legal abortion (by intimidation (of doctors, nurses and patients at women’s health clinics) or violence (up to (and including) murder).
Out in Utah (a bastion of progressive thought), a new law has just passed out of committee. The “bill tightens the definition of what an abortion is and removes a legal immunity for women if they intentionally try to have an illegal abortion.” (this (and all others (except where noted)) is from KCPW‘s website).
Representative Carl Wimmer’s (R – District 52 (Utah)) bill is in response to a frightening case in which a “a Vernal teenager paid a man to beat her so that she would have an abortion.” The girl’s boyfriend threatened to break up with her unless she terminated the pregnancy (Salt Lake City Tribune). So (and I’m guessing here), given the lack of reproductive health services in the Beehive State, the girl (who had already made an immature decision in failing to take proper precautions before having sex) made another immature decision and paid 18-year-old Aaron Harrison to kick her in order to induce a miscarriage.
There is a problem with the bill. I have read through it (turgid reading (and (I freely admit) I am not an expert when it comes to reading proposed legislation)) and noticed a problem. Others have also noticed this problem. It appears that a woman who miscarried could be prosecuted if she cannot prove that the miscarriage was the result of an illegal abortion. And others have noticed it:
at a committee hearing yesterday, questions were raised about it possibly subjecting those who have miscarriages to prosecution. But bill sponsor Representative Carl Wimmer said that would not be the case.“It’s absurd to think that a woman who has a miscarriage would be charged under the law right now. We know that that probably would not happen, although it technically probably could the way that the criminal homicide law is written,” he said. “My bill doesn’t affect that. My bill does nothing to change that, whatsoever.”
— snip —
“Most of the time when a woman miscarries, she has no idea why. And this bill requires her to prove the sole reason it happened,” she said. “And so as we’re moving forward with this piece of legislation, we would respectfully request that the committee and the sponsor look at continuing to ensure that women who want to have their babies and lose their babies to miscarriage will be protected.”
With Wimmer pledging to work on separate legislation to address these concerns, the House Health and Human Services committee voted unanimously to move his bill forward for a vote on the House floor.
That’s going to take a rather large investigative organisation considering that (from babycenter.com):
About 15 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and more than 80 percent of these losses happen before 12 weeks. This doesn’t include situations in which you lose a fertilized egg before you get a positive pregnancy test. Studies have found that 30 to 50 percent of fertilized eggs are lost before a woman finds out she’s pregnant, because they’re lost so early that she goes on to get her period about on time — in other words the woman doesn’t realize she was pregnant at all.
One in five known pregnancies, up to half of all pregnancies, end in miscarriages– spontaneous abortions.
“Ma’am, you told your husband you were pregnant.”
“Yes, I did.”
“And now you aren’t?”
“That is correct.”
“Can you prove that you didn’t hire someone to perform an illegal abortion?”
Not to worry, though. Mr. Wimmer “know[‘s] that that probably would not happen. . . .” And we all know how trustworthy and honest GOP right wing religious zealots are, right? They would never lie about health care/insurance reform, right? They would never lie about the effectiveness of comprehensive sex-education or birth control, right? They would never lie about gun control, right? They would never lie about gay marriage, right?
Yeah. I trust him. About as much as I admire him.
*I admire them the same way that I admire other horrible things: The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Ishtar, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Oakland Raiders, Beck, Steele, Limbaugh, Palin, et al. In other words, my admiration is more for the fact that they can get away with this shit with a straight face than for the fact that they are actually doing it!