Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Your Friendly Womb Police in Utah

Yup. A new law makes it possible that a woman who has had a miscarriage will then be exposed to police interrogation:

The Utah Senate has joined the House in allowing homicide charges against expectant mothers who arrange illegal abortions.

The bill responds to a case in which a Vernal woman allegedly paid a man $150 to beat her and cause miscarriage but could not be charged. The Senate on Thursday approved HB12 on a vote of 24-4, criminalizing a woman's "intentional, knowing, or reckless act" leading to a pregnancy's illegal termination. It specifies that a woman cannot be prosecuted for arranging a legal abortion.

The measure now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for final action.

What is "reckless?" Taking a hot bath? Hang-gliding? Slipping on an icy path while jogging? Almost anything can be defined as "reckless" if disgusting womb controllers so decide. I read that the measure is not aimed at prosecuting spontaneous miscarriages but how can you tell, hmh?

OK. Let's see what the punishments for reckless women in this Margaret Atwood's Gilead are:

The bill does not affect legally obtained abortions, but it does criminalize the actions taken by a woman to induce a miscarriage or an abortion outside a doctor's care. Penalties range up to life in prison.

Perhaps the most troubling part of the bill is a standard that could make women legally responsible for miscarriages caused by so-called "reckless" behavior. Under the "reckless behavior" standard, an attorney only needs to show that the woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she did not intend to lose the pregnancy. Under this law, if a woman drinks too much and has a miscarriage, she could face prosecution.

Many states have fetal homicide laws, most of which apply only in the third trimester. Utah's bill, hwoever, would apply through the entire duration of a woman's pregnancy. Even common first trimester miscarriages could trigger a murder trial.

Mind-boggling. You can go to a physician and have a legal abortion during the first trimester but if you have a suspicious miscarriage at home you might be taken to court for murder.