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Your body is now a crime scene
February 24, 2010 7:53 PM   Subscribe

"Using the legal standard of "reckless behavior" all a district attorney needs to show is that a woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she didn't intend to lose the pregnancy. Drink too much alcohol and have a miscarriage? Under the new law such actions could be cause for prosecution." A new Utah law now makes intentional behavior leading to miscarriage or "reckless" behavior leading to miscarriage a crime punishable by life in prison.
posted by Avenger (88 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
One more reason I'm glad I don't live in Utah.
posted by The World Famous at 7:55 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fuck that. Let's control women's bodies even more, huh?
posted by gaspode at 7:57 PM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's fucked up
posted by Flashman at 7:59 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's the destination of this road you're pavi--- oh........ right.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:59 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


So what's the punishment for reckless seminal discharge? And what is the legal standard for that?
posted by jsavimbi at 8:06 PM on February 24, 2010 [18 favorites]


Does the governor intend to sign this?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:07 PM on February 24, 2010


This will get those women who love it when they miscarry.
posted by nestor_makhno at 8:08 PM on February 24, 2010 [46 favorites]


UTAH PROUD!
posted by Joe Beese at 8:10 PM on February 24, 2010


This is sad. I just can't feel much more than sadness for the people who will have to live through the effects of this law, or deal with what its existence implies (that women are merely vehicles for producing babies, and that their bodies are the property of the society they belong to).
posted by spiderskull at 8:12 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


There was a case a few years ago where a Girls's boyfriend was prosecuted for trying to help his girlfriend miscarry (after she was lied to and told she couldn't get an abortion). Most of the posters around here seemed to think putting him in jail was the right thing to do, and that the guy who did it was a terrible person. Which I found pretty bizarre.
The basis for the law was a recent case in which a 17-year-old girl, who was seven months pregnant, paid a man $150 to beat her in an attempt to cause a miscarriage. Although the girl gave birth to a baby later given up for adoption, she was initially charged with attempted murder. However the charges were dropped because, at the time, under Utah state law a woman could not be prosecuted for attempting to arrange an abortion, lawful or unlawful.
So basically the exact same thing, although this law is much more broad, in that the woman can also be prosecuted.
posted by delmoi at 8:14 PM on February 24, 2010


All riiiiiight...
This is a new low.
posted by Kloryne at 8:14 PM on February 24, 2010


This makes me really uncomfortable. This is something ripe for abuse.
posted by FunkyHelix at 8:15 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh well, just be glad you don't live in Nicaragua:
Nicaraguan authorities have withheld life-saving treatment from a pregnant cancer patient because it could harm the foetus and violate a total ban on abortion.

A state-run hospital has monitored the cancer spreading in the body of the 27-year-old named only as Amalia since her admission on February 12 but has not offered chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a therapeutic abortion, citing the law.

The decision has ignited furious protests from relatives and campaigners who say the woman, who has a 10-year-old daughter and is 10 weeks pregnant, will die unless treated. The cancer is suspected to have spread to her brain, lungs and breasts. They have petitioned the courts, government and the pan-regional Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to intervene.
posted by delmoi at 8:15 PM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Step 1: Make it as difficult as possible to obtain a legal and safe abortion
Step 2: Pass anti-woman legislation under the guise of protecting women once women resort to unsafe abortion
Step 3: profit get reelected

Get used to this strategy. It's not going anywhere. TRAP laws + pseudo science (see "post abortion syndrome" or various CPC crap) = modern pro-life movement. This is why I'll sadly always have a job.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:17 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Isn't it pretty common for a reckless killing of a fetus to be treated as manslaughter?
posted by planet at 8:20 PM on February 24, 2010


"I know it's well-intentioned," Dayton said of the attempt to lift "reckless acts" from the bill, "but I don't think we want to go down the road of carefully defining the behavior of a woman."

What the effing eff?
posted by brain_drain at 8:22 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Interesting. We've just been talking in my first-year Torts class about special duties, and specifically the duty owed to the unborn.
Here in Canada it's been pretty consistently held that others can owe a duty to the unborn (car accidents, or doctors who fail to warn about effects on a fetus or possibly even fetus that may arise).
However, they have also held that the mother cannot owe a duty of care to her fetus. Our prof commented that it smacks of the past's situation in which women were only valued for their ability to make babies and didn't have control of their own bodies.

How apropos.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:24 PM on February 24, 2010


They argued that criminalizing reckless acts leaves open the possibility of prosecutions against domestic violence victims who return to their abusers only to be beaten and lose the child.

Yeah but what if they return to the abuser on purpose in order to be beaten and lose the child? I only think it fair you consider this crucial question, lawmaking men of Utah.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:25 PM on February 24, 2010


Isn't it pretty common for a reckless killing of a fetus to be treated as manslaughter?

Past the point of viability, sometimes. Before that? Typically not. I haven't read this law, so I don't know if the viability point is involved.

Ladies, better stop taking ibuprofen for cramps! after all, early pregnancy is crampy as hell too, and ibuprofen is correlated with miscarriage!
posted by KathrynT at 8:27 PM on February 24, 2010


I've never understood the tendency of lawmakers to enact laws that add no possible deterrent value to an event. Criminalize miscarriage? Criminalize suicide? Nothing positive happens; you don't even look "tough on crime", you look like a fucking idiot to anyone that has more than two brain cells to rub together.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:27 PM on February 24, 2010


This whole law makes me want to throw up all over every single lawmaker in Utah. Christ.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:27 PM on February 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


Some Senate Democrats attempted a last-minute amendment to remove the word "reckless" from the list of criminal acts leading to miscarriage.

Wimmer later said he had been open to the Democrats' suggestion, but it had come too late.
"I wasn't about to hold the bill up," he said.


Good on you, Wimmer! Sure we're leaving in a huge void of mealy mouthed wiggle room that you could drive a damned truck through, but we just didn't have the time to change it! That is a painfully lame and disingenuous excuse.

This is exactly what we need - more laws with ambiguous, indirect language that can be reinterpreted from person to person. 'Reckless' in this case is going to be defined on a case-by-case basis that which could easily run the gamut from "she's guilty because she went to a party and drank" to "the doctor told her to take things easy but she still went to work." The defined limits of acceptable behavior for pregnant women is going to be defined by a jury of their peers, i.e. the defined social standards of Utah. So, basically, this is something to keep those filthy tramps in line.
posted by Consonants Without Vowels at 8:32 PM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Past the point of viability, sometimes. Before that? Typically not. I haven't read this law, so I don't know if the viability point is involved.
According to this (which I didn't check at all), 21 states have pre-viability fetal homicide laws of some sort, and 38 have fetal homicide laws of any sort.
posted by planet at 8:33 PM on February 24, 2010


♫♫ "There is a bomb in Gilead..." ♫♫
posted by killdevil at 8:35 PM on February 24, 2010


This is so depressing.
posted by goshling at 8:37 PM on February 24, 2010


I guess one thing that can be said for this is the mormons are putting their money where their mouth is. It's still insane and disgusting, but at least it's consistent with the belief that all fetuses are human beings and that destroying them is murder. (Also consistent with people who don't think women are human beings, of course. Same as it ever was.)
posted by Caduceus at 8:38 PM on February 24, 2010


What happens if the overhanging possibility of life in prison causes a stress-induced miscarriage?

Would the state of Utah be deemed responsible & stripped of its legal standing?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:42 PM on February 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


Man, think of all those children who will be glad to grow up with their moms in prison for life. That'll totally lead to a happy society built on the bedrock of nuclear families.

Patriarchy: The stupid-maker!
posted by yeloson at 8:48 PM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah! And now the person who accosted me to lecture me outside of Starbucks when I was pregnant and holding my latte could be justified for calling the cops on me?? After all, caffeine consumption is correlated with miscarriage, and they don't know if it was my 4th cup that day.

Awesome!
posted by gaspode at 8:51 PM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is so depressing.

Well, I've been reading the "No Longer Quivering" blog all day today which I found through the sad child murder thread; furthermore one of my best friends is a very vocal supporter of reproductive rights, and abortion rights in particular. I should be really depressed at reading this story, but after reading the testimonies of the women who escaped religious oppression over at the NLQ blog and knowing that there are still people alive who are devoted to delivering abortive procedures out of compassion for humanity, I feel... oddly optimistic...



...no, wait, the feeling passed. I'm back to normal. Utah, haneekullah!
posted by fuq at 8:54 PM on February 24, 2010


And now the person who accosted me to lecture me outside of Starbucks when I was pregnant and holding my latte could be justified for calling the cops on me?

As a fellow New Yorker, I hope your response was our town motto which, if my civics class taught me anything, is: "Get the fuck out of my face."
posted by Amanojaku at 9:05 PM on February 24, 2010 [12 favorites]


I hope your response was our town motto which, if my civics class taught me anything, is: "Get the fuck out of my face."

By the time I had beaten down the impulse to throw my hot coffee in her face, my mind had gone blank :)
posted by gaspode at 9:12 PM on February 24, 2010


Utah is becoming almost as vulnerable to stereotyping and jokes as Texas is.

So what happens if you get charged and leave the state? Are other states going to extradite for this?
posted by psycho-alchemy at 9:28 PM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


The woman whose body the fetus is in has a different physical relationship with the fetus than anybody else - why shouldn't she have a different legal one as well? I see no contradiction between penalizing the killing or harming of a fetus that's in someone else's body on purpose or through reckless negligence (with the exception of licensed abortion providers) and not criminalizing the killing or harm of a fetus that's in your own body, no matter how that harm comes about.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:56 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Force is a religiously inherent evil.
posted by telstar at 10:03 PM on February 24, 2010


Oh, this shit has to stop. What's the first step in stopping these idiots?
posted by CarlRossi at 10:07 PM on February 24, 2010


I see no contradiction between penalizing the killing or harming of a fetus that's in someone else's body on purpose or through reckless negligence (with the exception of licensed abortion providers) and not criminalizing the killing or harm of a fetus that's in your own body, no matter how that harm comes about.

are you fucking kidding me
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:13 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've said forever that if you want to make me take your "Abortion is murder!" shit seriously you need to support making miscarriages involuntary manslaughter.

Shows the dangers of getting what you hyperbolically wish for. Geez.
posted by Cyrano at 10:21 PM on February 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


are you fucking kidding me

As far as I can make out from all the double-negatives, I think Salamandrous was saying the opposite of what you presumably think.

Let's break it down:

I see no contradiction between:

a) penalizing the killing or harming of a fetus that's in someone else's body [yada yada]

and

b) not criminalizing the killing or harm of a fetus that's in your own body [yada yada]

posted by UbuRoivas at 10:30 PM on February 24, 2010


Oh, okay. That's sane.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:32 PM on February 24, 2010


I wonder if Utah's status as the state with the second lowest GDP per capita is in any way related to their complete disempowerment of women.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:36 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I see no contradiction between penalizing the killing or harming of a fetus that's in someone else's body on purpose or through reckless negligence (with the exception of licensed abortion providers) and not criminalizing the killing or harm of a fetus that's in your own body, no matter how that harm comes about.

There should be some form of societal sanction against reckless behaviour that results in harm to a fetus, if (and only if) that fetus subsequently is born and becomes a person who has to live with deformities or other handicaps for their whole life. I also don't see the big deal about "your body is now a crime scene". Drink and drive and your body is a crime scene (a blood alchohol test is a forensic investigation of said crime scene). Tattoo certain symbols on your body in certain European countries and your body is a crime scene. Ingest or inject certain illegal substances and your body is a crime scene. And so on.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 11:34 PM on February 24, 2010


Ahh Utah, they're gonna party like it's 999.

I suspect that the law will eventually declare that all women, the moment they are inseminated, are be immediately carted off to a facility where they will be put in a coma and fed intravenously for nine months until the baby is born to make sure it's perfectly healthy and safe. Of course after that lawmakers don't give the fuck about the kid, especially if it's brown.
posted by Vaska at 1:29 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The woman whose body the fetus is in has a different physical relationship with the fetus than anybody else - why shouldn't she have a different legal one as well? I see no contradiction between penalizing the killing or harming of a fetus that's in someone else's body on purpose or through reckless negligence (with the exception of licensed abortion providers) and not criminalizing the killing or harm of a fetus that's in your own body, no matter how that harm comes about.

Deliberately creating a human being with fetal alcohol syndrome is A-OK in your book? Shooting heroin while pregnant if one intends to deliver is peachy?

There shouldn't be _any_ kind of law that tries to prevent such outcomes? Really?

This law is stupid. A miscarriage does not create an individual who can suffer, but this extreme view that there should be no legal requirement of any kind that women not abuse their children-to-be (i.e., NOT the case where they are going to have an abortion) is so self serving as to deserve scorn and ridicule. It makes a mockery of the societal justifications for legal abortion.
posted by rr at 2:29 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


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.

That's definitely the sort of circumstance one needs to build a law around. Jump right on that.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:34 AM on February 25, 2010


Mostly, I just don't see how this is going to be enforceable. How are they even going to determine this? 25% of pregnancies end in the first trimester. 15% are lost in the second, and stillbirth (defined as occurring in pregnancies that have reached 20+ weeks) occurs in 1 in 160 pregnancies! That's a lot of pregnancies, and I bet that the vast majority of women going through them are having planned children or are very pleased at the unexpected pregnancy. Are they going to investigate every woman who has a miscarriage on suspicion that it may have been induced?

Furthermore, how are they going to be able to criminally prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the reckless behavior led to the miscarriage? Sure. Drinking alcohol while pregnant in large quantities isn't a good idea, but even at that, the child could still be born, though with fetal alcohol syndrome and likely some other issues. Jumping off a cliff probably isn't recommended either, but then there are women in third world countries who have survived wars, malnutrition, and who have walked for days and days on end to have their babies under the care of medical professionals since there are none in their towns. And while, sure, many of these babies may have issues at birth or later due to their in-utero experience, the women who deliver these babies certainly didn't miscarry.

So, just exactly how on earth, given that a miscarriage can happen pretty much at any time in a pregnancy and that reckless behavior on its own isn't always enough to cause a miscarriage, how are prosecutors going to even being pursuing cases in this manner? My understanding is autopsies on fetuses aren't always able to determine what happened, either.

And don't prosecutors have some discretion in terms of when and how they file charges in some cases? I have to wonder if in practicality it will happen that a prosecutor will have enough evidence to want to go forward with a case of this sort.
posted by zizzle at 3:31 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, this is just... i mean, what

seriously
posted by tehloki at 3:32 AM on February 25, 2010


"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."

A.K.A. US JUSTICE SYSTEM PROVES ONCE AGAIN IT DOES NOT KNOW THE MEANING OF "DISCRETION"
posted by tehloki at 3:33 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that could totally have been prosecuted under "conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm"

You know, not unlike how teenagers who email nudey pix of themselves are convicted of distributing child porn.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:11 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder if they could charge you for marrying your cousin, which increases the risk of genetic defects in the fetus and increased risk of miscarriage. Betcha didn't think of that, Utah!
posted by nprigoda at 4:14 AM on February 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Deliberately creating a human being with fetal alcohol syndrome is A-OK in your book? Shooting heroin while pregnant if one intends to deliver is peachy?

There shouldn't be _any_ kind of law that tries to prevent such outcomes? Really?


Really. Because at least in the eyes of the law (from the little I know), a baby with FAS or other conditions developed by the abusive behaviour of the mother is better off than a baby who wasn't born. There is no such thing as "unlawful life" in the courts.

Therefore, by banning the lesser situation, it seems reasonable to ban the greater situation, that of a mother trying to get an abortion.

If a baby has any of the situations from the neglect of the mother, it's possible (but unlikely) for them to succeed as a tortious matter. It's clearly possible for them to succeed against a third party, as Salamandrous was discussing.

A law won't "prevent such outcomes". Counseling services, neo-natal care, contraception, access to abortion, and a good adoption service will do it much better.
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:17 AM on February 25, 2010


Shoot me down if I'm wrong, but I was told once that a large proportion of women have had miscarriages without even knowing it. They just think their periods are late & "phew - there it is!" when what actually happened was that their bodies rejected a pregnancy of only a few days or weeks.

Apparently, it's very common; I forget the exact figure, but it might have been up there at around 80% or more of all sexually active women who have had this happen - like I said, without even realising it was a miscarriage.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:21 AM on February 25, 2010


Ah. I see they're trying to drive abortion back into the back alleys again.

It's things like this which remind me of why we once needed organizations like JANE, and how little progress we've made in some respects.

I try to remain hopeful the internet will help 'route around' any egregious oppression, in its various ways
posted by mikelieman at 4:37 AM on February 25, 2010


UboRoivas, what you're speaking of is what is called a "chemical pregnancy.

And, yes, it's surprisingly common. There's thought that women are finding out about them more now and knowing it was a nonviable pregnancy because of the more accurate home pregnancy tests that can be taken earlier and earlier. A woman who doesn't suspect she's pregnant will likely never know she's not having a late period but an incredibly early loss (we're talking days). It's usually women who are trying to get pregnant who learn they are having a chemical pregnancy.
posted by zizzle at 5:40 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


A law won't "prevent such outcomes". Counseling services, neo-natal care, contraception, access to abortion, and a good adoption service will do it much better.

That is feelgood nonsense.

Obviously abortion is not the relevant to the sub-case I'm getting at (since it is legal and the type of law I was discussing is one about women who __deliver__) and adoption doesn't help either since it does nothing to prevent a crackbaby from being born. Contraception is _completely_ irrelevant.

I'm just pointing out the hypocrisy of the position that no law must EVER tell women what they can or cannot do while pregnant.

This particular law is stupid and I am pro-abortion, but it's completely insane that someone would legitimately believe that it is child abuse to give a just-born baby heroin [I hope we can all agree this is abuse] but doing exactly that is not a few minutes before delivery.

Counseling services and neo-natal care do not address the problem of addict mothers _at all_. They are powerless.
posted by rr at 6:09 AM on February 25, 2010


Several years ago, a Virginia state delegate introduced a bill that would have required women to report the fetal death in any case where a doctor was not in attendance (so, a miscarriage early in pregnancy, while you're at home, for example). If you miscarried, you were supposed to call police to report it. Not doing so would be a Class 1 misdemeanor and could garner a $2500 fine.

There was an uproar (I believe some of his constituents called to ask him where they should send their bloody, post-miscarriage pads), and he withdrew the bill.
posted by rtha at 6:19 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does this mean we get to charge protesters who block womens access to prenatal care* with attempted murder? To say nothing of providers that deny care based on ability to pay.

*in, of course, such nefarious places as Planned Parenthood.
posted by stet at 6:34 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Counseling services don't address the problems of addict mothers?

What do you think counseling services are for?
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:04 AM on February 25, 2010


BrotherCaine: "I wonder if Utah's status as the state with the second lowest GDP per capita is in any way related to their complete disempowerment of women."

Don't forget rock-bottom in per pupil spending.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:10 AM on February 25, 2010


Counseling services don't address the problems of addict mothers? What do you think counseling services are for?

They have zero authority and not a very good record of success. No one is going to be placed into counseling, they will need to seek it voluntarily. We can place them firmly in the "no op" column.
posted by rr at 7:15 AM on February 25, 2010


Hey there Fourteenth Amendment! Oh, you are on vacation this week? That's cool.
posted by epsilon at 7:17 AM on February 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Along with passing this law, Utah will also increase the number of rehab slots available, and make sure that all un- and underinsured women have access to free prenatal care, right? And for women who are homeless, they'll be given housing, right? Right?
posted by rtha at 7:23 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


This law seems to have been written in a complete vacuum, completely separated from reality, in which as many as 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Never mind that these estimates fail to account for spontaneous miscarriages prior to implantation, which probably bring the figure at least in the neighborhood of 50%.

And what's considered reckless? Don't these people realize there are literally thousands of everyday factors that have been identified as potentially increasing the risk of miscarriage (everything from drinking green tea to coming into contact with common laundry detergents).

It seems to me the only way you satisfy this law is compulsory licensing and 24-hour surveillance of expectant mothers. But you have to go even further than that and start monitoring all sexual activity, really, as a significant percentage of early pregnancies are never reported. I guess you'd have to register with the government if you get pregnant, and submit to regular wellness inspections, if they really plan to implement these kinds of measures.

Thank god conservatives are doing their best to keep government out of our lives! Where would we be without their simple, morally grounded, common sense solutions to our most pressing social problems?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:24 AM on February 25, 2010


It seems to me the only way you satisfy this law is compulsory licensing and 24-hour surveillance of expectant mothers. But you have to go even further than that and start monitoring all sexual activity, really, as a significant percentage of early pregnancies are never reported. I guess you'd have to register with the government if you get pregnant, and submit to regular wellness inspections, if they really plan to implement these kinds of measures.

I think the likely outcome if this bill passes is both more and less scary than this. I highly doubt that any random woman who has a miscarriage would have much to fear from this law--district attorneys probably don't want to be dragging married mothers who miscarried wanted pregnancies into court to determine whether they did anything bad, because the uproar from voters would be enormous.

This is much more likely to be used to: (1) increase the penalties on women who are drug users and have the misfortune of being pregnant when they're busted; and (2) to allow medical professionals to bully pregnant women who they see as making poor decisions that may harm the fetus (e.g., women who want to refuse c-sections even when doctors believe it's important or essential to prevent harm to the fetus). These are the sorts of situations that D.A.'s have already tried to charge women with in the absence of explicit laws like this, and this would just make it so they could actually succeed.

This is depressing, and since I'm not a Utah voter all I can really do is make a contribution to the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), an organization whose mission is to fight nonsense like this.
posted by iminurmefi at 7:58 AM on February 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Because at least in the eyes of the law (from the little I know), a baby with FAS or other conditions developed by the abusive behaviour of the mother is better off than a baby who wasn't born. There is no such thing as "unlawful life" in the courts.

Yeah, that's not true.
posted by kafziel at 8:41 AM on February 25, 2010


This bill is insane. I hear the argument about addicted mothers, but then, what about mothers with known genetic risks, or hypertension? Both might lead to miscarriage....are they, too, being "reckless" under this law? The fact is, we don't really know why so many pregnancies end in miscarriage -- and neither do state legislators -- and neither do doctors. Does an addicted mother who gives birth to a normal child face charges for endangerment? Pregnancy is, even for "perfectly" behaved, healthy women, a huge roll of the dice. I have to believe this bill is an unbelievable cynical way for these men to target certain handpicked, unlucky women as shame sluts, in order to rev up voters and donations.
posted by Malla at 9:27 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just to be safe, I urge every woman in Utah to send her used tampons or pads directly to the office of her local representative. If lawmakers are so interested in every woman's uterine contents, then let's make it easy for them to examine 'em at their leisure.

and as for rr's trolling, I can only refer him/her/it to the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, who will, in fact, tell you why putting women in jail for self-harm (which is what we're talking about here) penalizes the vulnerable and does not work to reduce that self-harm. Oh and they quote such crackpot organizations as the AMA and the March of Dimes in support of their crazy position, too.
posted by emjaybee at 9:50 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Life in prison makes it seem like the legislators had no real sense of proportion or scale.
posted by adoarns at 10:03 AM on February 25, 2010


This has no purpose than to criminalise pregnant women for not behaving appropriately, and like rtha said, it's almost guaranteed that there are no additional support services being set up for women in the state to help them avoid non-medically difficult pregnancies. I'm wondering if dooce has a response to this, being that she lives in Utah and suffered a miscarriage between the two daughters she has now.

Also, I wish a certain group of people would back the fuck out of women's bodies if they're not going to give us an affordable healthcare system. A great deal of American patriotism revolves around the notion that this is the most free country in the world, yet I became an obvious second class citizen in ways I never thought I could be when I moved here from the UK. I love this country and it's people in a million ways, but criminalising women on a daily fucking basis because we want to control our own bodies independently of men and the government... it's so hard not to rage. Grargh.
posted by saturnine at 10:35 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


*attempting to criminalise women
posted by saturnine at 10:41 AM on February 25, 2010


I've been pregnant. Basically, a foreign being grows inside your body, causing various weird health side effects, and endangering your life. Ultimately, I had this person surgically removed, which occasioned more life-threatening events, for both of us. And, you know what, I would have done it again, because I chose to have that child, and wanted that child. I took my vitamins+folate, I exercised in the recommended manner, I eschewed alcohol, drugs, and screwed up my teeth by avoiding the dentist, and all manner of annoying stuff, because I was so pleased that I was going to have a lovely baby that I wanted very much.

Only female people can have this being grow inside them. Male(mostly) legislators think it's okay to tell women that they must accept having a person in their body, even if it threatens to kill them. Yet, if you come to my house and look at me funny, I can shoot you dead with my gun, in self-defense, and those same fundie, conservative, gun-loving, women-hating, sex-hating legislators will praise me and maybe even throw me a freaking parade.

I am pro-choice, because I want to choose what happens to my own body. The one thing for which I respect foolish Sarah Palin is that she chose to have a baby with a serious health problem that will last the child's whole life. She chose a difficult path according to her beliefs.

Sex is wonderful and a lot of folks would be better off having more of it at home, and worrying less about other people having it. An individual should be able to decide what happens in their own body. We should teach young people how their bodies work, so they can make informed decisions. Including teaching them that babies are terrific, and should not be poisoned with alcohol and drugs and bad nutrition. But it's my damn body, and anybody who wants to force me to keep a live being in it, or behave according their rules, can just fuck the hell right the fuck off.
posted by theora55 at 11:05 AM on February 25, 2010 [14 favorites]


it's completely insane that someone would legitimately believe that it is child abuse to give a just-born baby heroin [I hope we can all agree this is abuse] but doing exactly that is not a few minutes before delivery.

It's not completely insane, it's a very sane consequence of the fact that there is a real concrete physical difference between a born outside the womb baby/person and a woman who happens to have an unborn inside the womb fetus inside of her.

People often want to talk about unborn fetuses without talking about the women who are carrying them - but physically they're not separate and it's a counter factual mind game to discuss them as though they were.
posted by Salamandrous at 2:02 PM on February 25, 2010


Also, Uburoivas, thanks for parsing out my statement so clearly and accurately. I may have to be a little more careful with these compounding double negatives...
posted by Salamandrous at 2:04 PM on February 25, 2010


I hate this state. If you read the comments on the article (just getting underway) they are unanimously opposed. I would remind people that our legislators need to meet their annual quota of crazy and will be finished with their business in a week or two. Just because they're up there doesn't mean they represent me. They got elected because they have an R next to their name, not for their views or work.
posted by msbutah at 6:26 PM on February 25, 2010


And, yes, it's surprisingly common. There's thought that women are finding out about them more now and knowing it was a nonviable pregnancy because of the more accurate home pregnancy tests that can be taken earlier and earlier. A woman who doesn't suspect she's pregnant will likely never know she's not having a late period but an incredibly early loss (we're talking days).

This is what happened to me. Last fall, I was trying to get pregnant and got a faint positive at 12 dpo (days post ovulation). My period started at 14 dpo. If I hadn't been trying to get pregnant, I would have never known. It makes me wonder just how many of these I've had in my lifetime.
posted by echolalia67 at 6:50 PM on February 25, 2010


As horrifying as it might be to conservatives to face this, uncounted millions of pregnancies are lost to early miscarriage and spontaneous termination every year, making DUMB LUCK the most ruthless baby killer of all, and suggesting that God Himself might not be as committed as Republicans pretend to be to the value of unborn life.

Compared to DUMB LUCK, abortion's overall impact on the number of pregnancies that result in live birth is at best only slightly more than statistical noise.

But of course, you can't show up at DUMB LUCK's church and shoot him in the back for being a baby killer while he's passing the collection plate. No, that's what doctors are for.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:02 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not completely insane, it's a very sane consequence of the fact that there is a real concrete physical difference between a born outside the womb baby/person and a woman who happens to have an unborn inside the womb fetus inside of her.

People often want to talk about unborn fetuses without talking about the women who are carrying them - but physically they're not separate and it's a counter factual mind game to discuss them as though they were.


You know, I am in favor of abortion and all, but this is basically just self deception.
posted by rr at 9:09 PM on February 25, 2010



Compared to DUMB LUCK, abortion's overall impact on the number of pregnancies that result in live birth is at best only slightly more than statistical noise.


Specious reasoning. Abortion generally terminates viable pregnancies. The spontaneous abortions in general are not viable. Yes, there are fuzzy cases, but to claim that spontaneous abortions are somehow equivalent to elective abortions is very weak.

Abortion is easy to justify without such a weak approach. Allowing women to abuse their children pre-delivery because "it's their body and no one should make laws about a woman's body" is absurd and does no credit to what should be a clear social support for elective abortion.
posted by rr at 9:12 PM on February 25, 2010


rr: "...A miscarriage does not create an individual who can suffer, but this extreme view that there should be no legal requirement of any kind that women not abuse their children-to-be (i.e., NOT the case where they are going to have an abortion)..."

Am I correct in reading you as saying that a woman has a right to her body and what happens to the fetus up until she decides that she wants to carry it to term? In which case, the fetus should be given rights according to its intended future status as a person because that's what it will become, barring an act external to the woman's will.

I don't think this is an entirely unreasonable opinion about the matter as it doesn't seem like you want to take the ultimate choice away from the woman in question, but it does seem somewhat problematic to me. For example, who is going to dictate what's acceptable for the mother to do? Is she banned from anything that could potentially damage the fetus? Is she bound to doctor's orders?

What about the fact that not all pregnant women are created equal? Should a poor mother-to-be be punished because she can't afford the healthy food she needs to provide proper nutrition for the fetus? Or, as others have noted, what about women with genetic issues?

Trying to regulate the bodies and choices of women as a whole really seems like an untenable proposition because every woman, and situation, is different. I think the idea of promoting having healthy, wanted babies is a great thing, but it seems too fraught with the potential to set back women's rights to approach that as a punishment-based initiative. Rather, addressing the underlying issues that lead to children born with deformities and illnesses (e.g. lack of education, lack of access to contraception and abortion, etc.) seems like it would have the most positive effect while minimizing regulations that would limit a woman's autonomy.

I really hope that I'm not mischaracterizing you in any of this. It took me some time to suss out what I think you're saying and I don't want to be accused of setting up a strawman or anything.
posted by mindless progress at 12:11 AM on February 26, 2010


Am I correct in reading you as saying that a woman has a right to her body and what happens to the fetus up until she decides that she wants to carry it to term? In which case, the fetus should be given rights according to its intended future status as a person because that's what it will become, barring an act external to the woman's will.

Pretty much. I'm just pointing out that the extreme "anything goes until delivery" position is basically reprehensible and childish.

Look, in general, I agree with you that laws controlling what women can and can't do while pregnant are problematic, but a lot of laws are problematic and there are a great many laws that exist in problematic domains because we need them anyway.

It baffles me that anyone would seriously support a woman's right to choose to give her child-to-be brain damage, as an example. There is an absolutist mentality there which has been discrediting the pro-choice movement for decades.

For example, who is going to dictate what's acceptable for the mother to do? Is she banned from anything that could potentially damage the fetus? Is she bound to doctor's orders?

Where does _any_ law come from? The who here is the representatitive elected by the people (and to some extent, appointed judges). This is not unusual, it is true of every law that we have today. Some of them are bad law, some are ridiculous case spacific grandstanding. There are tons of laws that control what people can and can't do with their bodies. Some of them are unjust, some of them are not.

Trying to regulate the bodies and choices of women as a whole really seems like an untenable proposition because every woman, and situation, is different.

Serously, how is this different from any other person or situation where the law comes into play? EVERY person, every situation is unique. There is nothing special about women here.

With regard to services, lack of education, lack of access to contraception -- look, all of these things are great, but that same sort of argument can be used for all crimes, all situations. For any crime people can (and do) chant about how if only we spent more on XXX or YYY there might have been some other event or outcome. There is nothing special about cases involving women vs. cases involving kids who grew up in poverty. But finally there are people who do things that are stupid, selfish, and damaging to others.

IMHO, the "healthy food" an "genetic issues" questions can't possibly be meant seriously. I don't mean to dismiss them lightly but really, how would "genetic issues" be specific to women instead of generic to women and men? In fact, that's my point. Healthy food? Seriously? What sort of law would make it through the legislative process?

This specific law, btw, requires the DA to meet a standard for reckless behavior. Rephrase it just very slightly (change the agent from the woman to an external agent) and you have common law today. Yes, this law is stupid grandstanding built around a specific case, and it is dangerous if religious crazies somehow manage to become completely in charge at many levels, but if it passes we'll be waiting a long, long time for some woman to be charged with reckless behavior for eating a Big Mac.
posted by rr at 3:00 AM on February 26, 2010


Pretty much. I'm just pointing out that the extreme "anything goes until delivery" position is basically reprehensible and childish.


As Bill Hicks once said, "You're not a human being till you're in my phone book"
posted by mikelieman at 3:52 AM on February 26, 2010


But finally there are people who do things that are stupid, selfish, and damaging to others.

And attempting to criminalize a public health problem is stupid and pointless. Over the last 30 or 40 years we have put hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people in jail because we have to wage a war on drugs, man! And where has that gotten us? How has that worked out, societally speaking? Do we have fewer addicts? Or do we have more states teetering on the brink of collapse in part because of the amount of money dedicated to jailing people who need treatment (hello, California!), states that are cutting funds to schools while prison budgets remain stable or get increased?

No one hear thinks that it's awesome for a pregnant woman to booze her way through her pregnancy. A lot of us believe that throwing women like that in jail is not the solution. And I will bet my last dollar that a law like this will be enforced most heavily against women who are nonwhite and/or poor.

Another consequence to a law like the one proposed is that women who are addicts may be less likely to get prenatal treatment at all, if they suspect that doing so will get them charged with endangering the fetus. Which is really not an optimal result.
posted by rtha at 5:59 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not ok with having one set of laws for most people and another set for gestating women.

Period.

Beside which, the law is a terrible tool for what you're proposing. Sex Ed, accessible birth control, abortion, prenatal care, mental health care, nutrition, etc, are much better ones.

In the end though no, the presence of a fetus should not strip a woman of any of her fundamental human rights to autonomy over her body. A pregnancy is not a prison sentence nor should it make a competent major into a ward of the state.
posted by Salamandrous at 6:05 AM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


to claim that spontaneous abortions are somehow equivalent to elective abortions is very weak.

For people who are pro-choice. People who believe that life begins at conception may have a very different view.
posted by desjardins at 6:40 AM on February 26, 2010


No one *here*, that is. I need more coffee.
posted by rtha at 6:54 AM on February 26, 2010


For people who are pro-choice. People who believe that life begins at conception may have a very different view.

Exactly. If you seriously believe life begins at conception (as most abortion opponents claim to, though I think it may just be a rationalization), then God Random Chance is the world's most prolific abortionist. So we should be spending more money on and devoting more attention to pregnancy loss prevention than on anti-abortion activism, shouldn't we--I mean, since it's all about the sanctity of the lives of the unborn, and not just a divisive political tactic or a way to control women.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:35 PM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sigh.
posted by agregoli at 12:43 PM on February 28, 2010


NYTimes Coverage:
Last May in a small town in eastern Utah, a 17-year-old girl, seven months pregnant, paid a man she had just met $150 to beat her up in hopes of inducing a miscarriage that would resolve her crisis. He obliged, taking her to a basement and kicking her repeatedly in the stomach.

The fetus survived the assault and was born in August. The attacker went to jail. And the girl, whose name was never released because she was under age, became the center of a legal debate — and the piece of legislation now awaiting the governor’s signature or veto.
posted by alms at 8:49 PM on February 28, 2010


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