Yes, officer, violate my privacy.
January 7, 2005 3:26 AM   Subscribe

Miscarry in Virginia? Call the police or go to jail. John Cosgrove, Delegate for the 78th district of Virginia has introduced a bill to criminalize not reporting a miscarriage to the police within 12 hours of the miscarriage. via Chez Miscarriage
posted by SuzySmith (75 comments total)
 
I followed the links, but I still don't get it--what's the point?

I know that lots of bills are useless, but I don't even see the political gain to be made here.
posted by Firas at 3:38 AM on January 7, 2005 [1 favorite]


Same here. There's so many laws that actually mean to restrict the rights of women- especially when pregnancy is involved- but this doesn't seem like one of them.

I really doubt the 12 hours is going to be enforced like a video rental fee or something. If anything, it seems like an arbitary rule designed to make sure there's legal grounds for prosecuting someone who NEVER reports their miscarriage- which should be a misdemeanor.

All the commentors on that last link are saying "why should you tell the police you had a miscarriage?" Umm.. the same reason you tell the police a family member died in their sleep. So they can send a coroner, establish an official time of death, and, you know, confirm that you didn't actually kill the person.

I understand the emotional impact of something as tragic as this actually happening, but this person seems to be arguing that if you miscarry your child, you should just throw it in a dumpster and forget about it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:18 AM on January 7, 2005


It sounds and smells suspiciously like anti-abortion legislation. Like it could be the point of a wedge of further and more restrictive legislation. It almost sounds like they're trying to sneakily legislate when 'life' begins or something to end-run Roe vs. Wade, which is troublesome.

XQUZYPHYR, let's say you're pregnant for 2-3 weeks and you miscarry, and choose not to report it. Should that still be a misdemeanor? I can see how you can read "just throw it in a dumpster and forget about it" in this, but I don't understand why you'd want to.
posted by loquacious at 4:29 AM on January 7, 2005


What what what!?? What? I'm sorry, spontaneous abortions happen all the time, often before 10 weeks of pregnancy - in other words women can miscarry without even suspecting that they were pregnant, just 'late'. Should I call the cops every time my period shows up two weeks late and its painful, because I might have miscarried you know.
posted by dabitch at 4:35 AM on January 7, 2005


what should be thrown in the dumpster, XQUZYPHYR you have never miscarried have you?
posted by dabitch at 4:36 AM on January 7, 2005


Those are valid points, loquacious, and the ones that should be more focused on then "is this an invasion of privacy or not?" My point was that it's standard to call the police when there's a death in your house.

Yes, I'm far more worried about the logic suggesting that abortions need to be reported to the police as deaths as well if this passes.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:37 AM on January 7, 2005


dabitch- come on. Obviously my analogy wasn't referring to something like that. For every situation you give in which it's a early-term pregnancy or a late period, I can suggest situations where an 8-month pregnancy terminates and there's ample reason to want to know what happened. Can we not bicker with analogies here?

That said, having read the bill text again, I think it's clear that loquacious is right- this is written as an anti-abortion measure. The websites seemed to be up in arms about the privacy issues of reporting things to authorities, while the actual wording is a mandate to require "fetal death reports" for pregnancy terminations- abortions included.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:47 AM on January 7, 2005


The statistics are that 1-in-4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage and most occur during the first tri-mester. What possible need would there be for the government to have these reported? It reeks of anti-choice propaganda.
posted by bluesky43 at 4:49 AM on January 7, 2005


Ok, how often do you think an 8-month spontanious abortion happens outside of a hospital? It's painful and dangerous at that stage, the woman is in all likelyhood seeking medical attention already.
posted by dabitch at 4:50 AM on January 7, 2005


I'm confused, XQUZYPHYR. I get the feeling that you don't know an awful lot about pregnancy. Pregnancies are very likely to miscarry at the beginning (as dabitch said, very often the woman doesn't even know she's pregnant) and there is no way to answer all those questions which the bill would make mandatory. What the introduction of the law would most likely mean would be that women would be less likely to see a doctor about the pregnancy until they'd passed the first trimester. That way you wouldn't have to report it if you miscarried, which is a not unlikely scenario. Basically when you miscarry at such an early stage, it's just a whole lot of blood clots. It's unthinkable to have to call the police about something like that - it just makes no sense.

On preview: I agree with dabitch. Not to mention that when one goes into labour at eight months, it's quite likely that the baby can be saved.
posted by different at 4:55 AM on January 7, 2005


What I didn't mention in my previous comment is that I think this bill is much more likely to be a step towards prosecuting women for potentially "dangerous" behaviour during preganancy, rather than an anti-abortion law. I don't think it's out of the question that rabid anti-abortionists (I stress that I don't include your average pro-choice person in this group) would eventually want to police pregnancy in all its stages. Did you smoke? Did you drink? Did you drive without a seat belt? It's not such a stretch to go from this proposed law to a state that investigates possible causes of miscarriage (which of course are often just that the embryo development hasn't progressed the way that nature intended it to, for no particular reason) and then lays charges against the person who miscarried.
posted by different at 5:02 AM on January 7, 2005


I still don't get it. Like others, my first thought was that this is some sort of anti-abortion measure, but then again, what does it really accomplish?
I mean, it's so unenforceable. Nobody will know you've had a miscarriage anyway. Maybe your immediate family and your doctor, but he's not allowed to talk to the police about it.

Methinks we still don't know what's really behind this.
posted by sour cream at 5:11 AM on January 7, 2005


XQUZYPHYR has owned up already, no need to pile on.

The privacy and anti-choice legislation issues in this are just jaw-dropping.

Even if this law was pure of heart and intent and was less invasive, I can't even imagine calling up some thick-necked cop to come take a report from me or my SO about a miscarriage within 12 hours. Maybe after a week or so it'd be slightly less traumatic, but even then. Holy cow.

Though I've met a few good cops - nice ones, erudite, educated, and sharp - but as a group they're usually not the smoothest eels in the bait bucket. I can just see some uppity "Soldier of Fortune"-reading rookie flippantly accusing the grieving mother of inducing the miscarriage on purpose and accusing her of murder or whatever. Yeah, it's an emotional strawman fantasy, but it's making my blood boil, and hardly removed from fiction.

The whole thing reeks.

On preview: What different says in their follow-up comment.
posted by loquacious at 5:13 AM on January 7, 2005


Like different and sour cream I'm perplexed as to why this is on the books now. What is it supposed to do?
Also wondering if the police don't have far better things to do with their time that take reports on possible miscarriages (if everyone follows this law, half of the calls will be guesses, like bluesky43 said, 1 in 4 pregnancies spontaneously abort).
posted by dabitch at 5:18 AM on January 7, 2005


Those are valid points, loquacious, and the ones that should be more focused on then "is this an invasion of privacy or not?" My point was that it's standard to call the police when there's a death in your house.

Which is, of course, the attitude that makes this whole thing potently anti-abortion. If you can get it legally recognized as a "death" when an early term fetus dies, well, then abortion must be murder, right?
posted by jacquilynne at 5:22 AM on January 7, 2005


Seems fairly clear to me that this is indeed an anti-abortion ploy, to grant fetuses as many rights as possible. It certainly follows from the pro-life movement's logic that, if a fetus is a person, then you cannot allow that person to die through inaction.

I have an image of this law having been sold with horror stories of fetuses left in dumpsters, despite, as we know, the wildly rare nature of such occurences. I suspect the reality might fall more into the line of preventing women from getting abortions and claiming to their rabidly pro-life loved ones that there was a miscarriage.

Does this mean every disposed tampon gets yellow CRIME SCENE tape? Y'know, just in case.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:24 AM on January 7, 2005


Jacquilynne nails the anti-choice logic here. If a miscarriage must be legally reported as a 'death', then it is not far to legislate that an intentional termination of pregnancy is also a 'death'. A benign view of this legislation is that miscarriages are somehow a public policy health issue - but the problem with the benign view is that there is no public policy health issue here. None.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:27 AM on January 7, 2005


More importantly, it's a setup for when abortions are actually banned. Thus, if you illegally terminate a pregnacy, they can investigate if a coworker notes that you aren't pregnant anymore, and reports you, and the state notices you didn't file a report about the loss of your pregnancy.

Indeed, I'm willing to bet the end goal will be mandatory reporting of pregnancies -- so they can track the child from fetus to birth, whereupon, of course, it'll be forgotten.
posted by eriko at 5:48 AM on January 7, 2005


It's RU-482 legislation, pure and simple. The drug causes a miscarriage, but it conviently causes one at home where the statistic can't later be thrown up on some pro-life website. They're trying to make visible essentially invisible abortions. And, I reckon if they play their cards right, they're ferreting out the women who use the morning after pill to prevent pregnancy as well.

Oh god, I am in a frothing hate this morning.
posted by headspace at 5:59 AM on January 7, 2005


It sounds like Mr Cosgrove just doesn't quite grasp how all of this works. Perhaps he has watched too much pro-life propaganda and thinks every miscarriage ends with a dead 8 pound human. I am speechless at the absurdity of this proposal.

on preview, very good call headspace.
posted by glenwood at 6:05 AM on January 7, 2005


486. RU-486. Guess my frothing hate made me mash-up RU and Turk for a brand new number. (And if you get that, you're as old as I am.)
posted by headspace at 6:07 AM on January 7, 2005


Boy the state legislature sure is hot to recognize fetuses as little citizens...except when it comes to taxes. In order to claim a baby as a dependent, it has to live for 24 hours after birth.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:41 AM on January 7, 2005


I really I wish that I knew how likely it is that this would pass. Does he actually have sufficient support for this, or is this another Gerald Allen "ban all books that spread teh gay"?

The availability of home pregnancy kits has created the phenomenon known as chemical pregnancy where women test positive for pregnancy because their hCG levels have gone up, but they get their period several days later. 20 years ago such a woman would not even have known she was pregnant. Now, she would technically be covered under this law. The thought of the local sheriff being dispatched for a 5 day late period is clearly preposterous, but the law is broad enough to cover this, and that I have a problem with. (And, you know, the whole privacy thing and the women's rights thing and the thing where the guy is clearly a retarded jackass who doesn't know jack shit about reproductive health thing)
posted by hindmost at 6:52 AM on January 7, 2005


For every situation you give in which it's a early-term pregnancy or a late period, I can suggest situations where an 8-month pregnancy terminates and there's ample reason to want to know what happened.

XQUZYPHYR: An eight-month pregnancy terminating by miscarriage is going to involve a D&C, and if you read the law in Virginia as it already exists the physician who attended at the miscarriage and subsequent removal of the fetus must provide medical certification of the procedure within 24 hours, and the full fetal death report is due within three days. I repeat, this is already the law here in Virginia; Cosgrove's amendment adds nothing useful to it that I can see, and seems simply to violate the privacy of a woman who's had an early miscarriage without need for medical treatment.
posted by ubernostrum at 6:59 AM on January 7, 2005


Wow, headspace, I didn't even consider something like that. That's horrible.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:59 AM on January 7, 2005


Fortunately, this is a Virginia thing. Solution: Move to Maryland, as nine in ten if you're a Virginian bothered by this, you live in the Land of the Slugline.

If this is the tipping point for you on the odious nature of Virginia's public policy in general, you haven't been paying very good attention.
posted by Vetinari at 7:15 AM on January 7, 2005


If anything, it seems like an arbitary rule designed to make sure there's legal grounds for prosecuting someone who NEVER reports their miscarriage- which should be a misdemeanor.

Which shouldn't be anything, in my book. Abortion is legal - the RU-486 mention was extremely pertinent. This is making me very angry today.

A solution to the problem isn't to move to another state - it's to fight the legislation.
posted by agregoli at 7:17 AM on January 7, 2005


This is scary and I'm surprised at the initial lackadaisical attitude toward it on the thread...

All the commentors on that last link are saying "why should you tell the police you had a miscarriage?" Umm.. the same reason you tell the police a family member died in their sleep. So they can send a coroner, establish an official time of death, and, you know, confirm that you didn't actually kill the person.

So you're establishing that the fetus is legally a person. I can't see how you could support this legislation and be pro-choice... In fact, why would they need to confirm that "you didn't actually kill" the fetus when you are not legally required to bring a pregnancy to term?

MIscarriages are by definition unintended fetal deaths. If you are already in the care of a doctor for the pregnancy, the miscarriage will be duly noted, by the health care officials, not the criminal courts, as is proper. If you are not seeing a doctor for the pregnancy then it was either too early along or it was an unwanted pregnancy anyway.

There is no reason the police should be involved with this.
posted by mdn at 7:24 AM on January 7, 2005


As many have said, like Lacy's Law, this is clearly anti-abortion legislation in disguise. The anti-abortionists are trying everything they can try to get foetuses declared people from the moment of conception. It's an obvious if completely absurd ploy.
posted by Yellowbeard at 7:26 AM on January 7, 2005


Chez Miscarriage makes me mad and glad. Thank you SuzySmith.

XQUZYPHYR has owned up already, no need to pile on.
Agreed on the non-need for a pile-on, but I don't see where XQUZYPHYR owned up to completely talking out of his ass during his first couple of comments.

posted by danOstuporStar at 7:27 AM on January 7, 2005


Another useful stratagem might be to have all Virginian women notify the police whenever their period is a couple days late, because you never know and don't want to risk a misdemeanor charge.
posted by sour cream at 7:30 AM on January 7, 2005


Well, if you folks are charmed by this little bit of anti-abortion chicanery, then you'll go wild over Rep. Koopman's proposal here in Montana. He desires that death certificates be issued for all aborted fetuses as a requirement of Montana Law.

(Not content to stop there, he is also proposing legislation to give schools more free reign in teaching Intelligent design and "creation science." Quite the nutter, this one.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 7:33 AM on January 7, 2005


headspace: that was exactly what I was thinking.
After the senator elected by the massive bible belt of my state pushed for the an outlaw of partial birth abortions I started becoming really scared as to what was next. Looks like politicians have found their loophole. I fear there is no stopping what is ahead.
posted by poipill at 7:38 AM on January 7, 2005


All part of our glorious future in which the state assumes control of their little citizens-in-the-making. Expect to see laws mandating physician visits by 12 weeks of gestation and more laws which control the substances injested by the micro-citizen carrier.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:43 AM on January 7, 2005


it's getting to the point where we'll need death certificates for menstruation. oh, and murder charges everytime some dude rubs one out.
posted by blendor at 7:43 AM on January 7, 2005


Things are getting really, really scary. Is this really my country?

Does this mean every disposed tampon gets yellow CRIME SCENE tape? Y'know, just in case.

Maybe women should begin mailing used tampons to the supporters of these bills - just as good citizens, of course - early compliance.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:48 AM on January 7, 2005


It's a stupid bill, it'll never pass. But it is one of the more interesting crazy laws I've ever heard of.

BTW, a friend of mine who works at the Daily Show said that whenever someone pitches a story about a retarded bill someone's trying to pass, they all break out into song. "Crazy Laws! Crazy Laws!"
posted by fungible at 7:55 AM on January 7, 2005


It's important to understand that John Cosgrove is completely insane, and a very, very bad man. This is totally par for the course for him. So, no, you're not just misunderstanding this bill -- it does precisely what it appears to do, with all malice intended.
posted by waldo at 7:57 AM on January 7, 2005


I agree with sour cream, except I think the women of Virginia should take it one step further. They should call in to the police every time they get their period, just to let everyone know they DIDN'T have a miscarriage. Just to be safe, you know?

Heh. Can you imagine the scenes at police stations if everyone organized to do this for just one day?
posted by sugarfish at 8:01 AM on January 7, 2005


It's a stupid bill, it'll never pass.

You're obviously not from Virginia. Sodomy is illegal here. Sex if you're not married? Illegal. Cheating on your spouse? Illegal.

It'll pass. Without organized citizen opposition, it'll pass.
posted by waldo at 8:01 AM on January 7, 2005


Grease them slopes up real good, boys!
posted by sourwookie at 8:12 AM on January 7, 2005


"Talking out of my ass?" Umm, okay, sure. (rolls eyes)

XQUZYPHYR: An eight-month pregnancy terminating by miscarriage is going to involve a D&C, and if you read the law in Virginia as it already exists the physician who attended at the miscarriage and subsequent removal of the fetus must provide medical certification of the procedure within 24 hours, and the full fetal death report is due within three days. I repeat, this is already the law here in Virginia

I didn't get that from the text; I wasn't aware this was already the case.

So you're establishing that the fetus is legally a person. I can't see how you could support this legislation and be pro-choice... In fact, why would they need to confirm that "you didn't actually kill" the fetus when you are not legally required to bring a pregnancy to term?

I am, and I don't. I support what I thought was the proposal, which was similar to what ubernostrum alterted me to, and that I'm now informed is already on the books. As many have said, like Lacy's Law, this is clearly anti-abortion legislation in disguise which wants to reword abortion and miscarriage into the same term of "fetal death." That's really, really bad.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:15 AM on January 7, 2005


More government intrusion into private life and private matters. To be resisted energetically.
posted by rushmc at 8:28 AM on January 7, 2005


Waldo is right. As a Marylander, I've grown accustomed to watching this sort of thing from across the river. Virginia always seems to be on the cutting edge of totalitarianism and the prosecution of pre-crimes. But honestly, these sort of lunacies seem to be endemic to governments everywhere, big and small.

This bill is ludicrous. To be fair to Cosgrove, he claims that the purpose of the bill is much less far-reaching than it appears:

This bill, which was requested by the Chesapeake Police Department, is an attempt to reduce the number of "trashcan" babies that are born and then abandoned in trashcans, toilets, or elsewhere to die from exposure or worse. There are numerous examples of these tragic deaths in Virginia, many in Northern Virginia and also in Hampton Roads. Once the body of a child is found, if the death of that child is undetermined by a coroner, the person abandoning that child can only be charged with "the improper disposal of a human body"

However, as the commenter points out, there are already laws on the books that accomplish this. If Cosgrove is being at all honest here, he'll withdraw the bill after he's done taking all of the outraged phone calls and letters. But when was the last time a politician admitted a stupid mistake?
posted by casu marzu at 8:32 AM on January 7, 2005


Heh. Can you imagine the scenes at police stations if everyone organized to do this for just one day?

I wholeheartedly support this. Seriously. If I was a woman, and if I was in Virginia, I'd be all over this.

Out-absurd the law!
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:33 AM on January 7, 2005


The thin edge of the wedge, here, is not just the forced reporting, but the identification of "miscarriage" as "death" -- as in, death of a legal person.

This is clearly wedge legislation. Its sole real purpose is to lay down another brick in the legal foundation for defining all fetuses at any stage of development as legal persons. That's what it is. It's part and parcel with the religious right's obsession with Dred Scott. [/self]
posted by lodurr at 8:58 AM on January 7, 2005


How anyone can think this is a good idea is beyond me. Someone on Chez Miscarriage made the comment that we have to sign HIPPA forms for everything, because of the new privacy laws, so why, when something very personal like this happens would we have to report it to a total stranger? Would this all go in the police blotter in the newspapers? Aren't police reports considered public records?

This scares me.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:04 AM on January 7, 2005


They should call in to the police every time they get their period, just to let everyone know they DIDN'T have a miscarriage. Just to be safe, you know?

While this seems totally ludicrous, this is pretty much what they were doing in pre-revolution Romania in the early 90's. Any married working women of childbearing age were required to take pregnancy tests once a month in the workplace. If they were not getting pregnant, they were hassled as to why not. Birth control and abortions were completely illegal. It was all part of the Ceasecus' crazy idea of building up the population, often at the expense of the health and welfare of the population they already had; many babies born to working mothers who couldn't care for them wound up in the Romanian orphanage system.
posted by jessamyn at 9:11 AM on January 7, 2005


Fetal death at eight months isn't actually a miscarriage. A miscarriage is "the spontaneous termination of a pregnancy before fetal development has reached 20 weeks." Most miscarriages happen before the twelfth week. Miscarriages don't produce "trashcan babies", and a baby born alive isn't a miscarriage. The text of the bill doesn't make any such distinctions, and that makes it even more troublesome. There is existing legislation in VA requiring the reporting of births after 24 weeks, live or stillborn. This is unnecessary and reeks of a hidden agenda.
posted by Aster at 9:21 AM on January 7, 2005


I gew up in Virginia, and things started heading in this direction when the signs at the border changed from Virginia is for Lovers to Radar Detectors Illegal.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:29 AM on January 7, 2005


Thank you for posting this! Chez Miscarriage is just about my favorite blog, and when I woke up and read this this morning, I thought my eyes were going to fall out of my head.

Insanity. Talk about adding insult to injury...
posted by OhPuhLeez at 9:33 AM on January 7, 2005


Forgot to add:

@ Sticherbeast

Brilliant - best way to protest. Organize thousands of women in Virginia to line up to declare their miscarriages to the police. Meanwhile, murders, robberies, car theft go unchecked.

Really, such a great use for a police department's time, don'tcha think?
posted by OhPuhLeez at 9:36 AM on January 7, 2005


I think eriko has nailed it. You'd have a hard row to hoe passing this after abortion is illegal but it can slip by quietly now and be on the books for later to prosecute "missing" pregnancies
posted by Mitheral at 9:56 AM on January 7, 2005


Frankly, I don't think this legislation goes far enough. I think to address the equal protection issues, men should be required to report as well. Every sperm that does not result in a full term fetus must be reported within 12 hours to the authorities.

"Hi, uh, is this where we fill out that incompleted-pregnancy form?"

"Yes sir. Just sign and date this affadavit stating you are reporting lost sperm and an incomplete pregancy within the 12 hours as required by law."

"Okay. [signs] There you go."

"Sir? You only filled out one form."

"It was only one ejaculation.... What? I swear!"

"Well, how many sperm do you think that is?"

"B-but -- you don't want an affadavit for *each* sperm...?! That's like 20 million reports!"

"Nice try -- it's 40 million. I'd start signing if I were you. Only 11 hours left..."

"D'oh! [signs furiously] Stupid Victoria's Secret catalog..."
posted by Mr Pointy at 10:15 AM on January 7, 2005


Mmmh "obscenity" laws...redefining what's obscene what's not...disguised abortion laws, trying to redefine abortion into "fetal death" skipping on "naturally occurring fetal death" = " natural spontaneous abortion" ...uhhmm...traitor=terrorist=dissident=liberal (well ok that's not from the government, yet)
posted by elpapacito at 10:33 AM on January 7, 2005


Mrpointy: I wouldn't give them ideas, it's so insane it may actually find some supporter.
posted by elpapacito at 10:34 AM on January 7, 2005


What if they're trying to set a precedent for "serial" aborters? 3 miscarriages (as if this wouldn't be traumatic enough) then a visit by your friendly neighborhood Abortion Gestapo?
posted by AllesKlar at 10:39 AM on January 7, 2005


If this kind of stuff consistently got passed, I could see our society requiring women to sign in to buy tampons and such. Seriously, it scares me. Reminds me of "A Handmaid's Tale". (very good book, I suggest it)
posted by sian at 11:20 AM on January 7, 2005


sian: I was just thinking about that. I wonder, since "orwellian" seemed to be my favorite word in the past four years, if atwoodian will now replace that. Or if such a word even exists.
posted by Kellydamnit at 12:14 PM on January 7, 2005


There are million things that are wrongheaded and offensive about this, but -- besides playing into the anti-choice scheme of granting legal personhood to embryos -- it seems to present miscarriage as an unnatural, preventable thing, and something that needs to be "tracked" if it's happening too frequently to one person. Miscarriage can be upsetting enough without women being made to feel like they're some kind of outlaw.

As other people have said, early-term miscarriage is extremely common (even if some women don't realize this until it happens to them and a doctor explains the statistics). The great majority of early miscarriages happen for chromosonal reasons (= a not-ideal combination of egg and sperm), not because the woman has done anything wrong. It's so common that often you have to have at least two or three miscarriages before a doctor will suggest additional tests to determine if other factors are at play with the woman's system or her partner's sperm.


You're obviously not from Virginia. Sodomy is illegal here. Sex if you're not married? Illegal. Cheating on your spouse? Illegal.

While those are unarguably stupid, invasive laws, in most cases they're never reported or prosecuted. Obviously the people who are involved have no reason to report them -- and certainly aren't under any professional obligation to report them.

This proposed law could be much more dangerous, because presumably any doctor or midwife who's aware of a miscarriage would be obligated to report it. This, in turn, could prompt some women to avoid seeking necessary medical care -- particularly if the miscarriage has already started more than 12 hours previous. And some of them can take a long time (mine took than a week) -- does the "12-hour" clock start ticking when it begins or when it ends?

Bah. Do Cosgrove's peers in the Virginia government think he's as nuts as we do?
posted by lisa g at 12:57 PM on January 7, 2005


Nitpick: You can't do a D&C past about 3 months. An 8 month fetal death would basically require induced labor and removal of the fetus.

Secondly: I am absolutely disgusted by this law. My mother had a miscarriage 3 months before she conceived me (she wasn't supposed to get pregnant for a year, but that's a whole different story). She barely left the house for a few days and the only people she told were my father and her parents. My father told his parents. But that was it.

I can't think of a more private time for a woman. To have someone asking questions is....well, I'm out of words. I have nothing for the ultimate insult added to injury.
posted by u.n. owen at 1:11 PM on January 7, 2005


The sentiment behind this is what really gets me. As Owen says above, this is an intensely private and painful time for a woman.

The fact that some stupid man wants to force an emotionally fragile woman to report her recent miscarriage to the FUCKING COPS makes me angry and sick at the same time. The 12 hour time constraint shoots it straight past absurdity to lunacy.

This is between a woman and her doctor. Full stop.

I hope you burn in the hell you believe in, Mr. Cosgrove.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:25 PM on January 7, 2005


For those wondering how a woman could end up prosecuted for something like this: I imagine one example could be a vicious ex who'd been informed of the miscarriage. It's possible, too, that a woman could get an infection as a result of an incomplete miscarriage which wouldn't be reported for a few days or a week.

At that point, her physician could report her.
posted by u.n. owen at 1:34 PM on January 7, 2005


I don't think this has formally been introduced yet, as the session does not start until Jan. 12th. I just talked to a person who's a health care industry lobbyist in Richmond, and he has not yet heard of this, presumably because the session has not even begun yet.

I'll post an update later after he has had a chance to read the bill and give me his opinion on its fate based on his experience and knowledge of the VA general assembly.

I would bet that even if it did pass, the governor would veto it. Note that this is an election year for the delagates, so this may be simple pandering to the base by Cosgrove that stands no chance of passing.
posted by pitchblende at 1:40 PM on January 7, 2005


While those are unarguably stupid, invasive laws, in most cases they're never reported or prosecuted. Obviously the people who are involved have no reason to report them -- and certainly aren't under any professional obligation to report them.

Ah, but it's still something that they can prosecute you for. Piss off the local sheriff or DA and all of a sudden you looking at five, six misdemeanor charges (maybe even a felony or two). I see shit laws like this as a more subtle form of a police-state than the brownshirts or storm-troopers (at least, less overt).

And I think the sodomy law would have been struck down by Lawrence v. Texas, no?
posted by MikeKD at 4:19 PM on January 7, 2005


I'm from VA and I think this is sick. I am going to tell all the women I know about this. I'd also like to print something up and post it around the shopping center here so that people walking by can read it. I'm tempted to send emails out to the offices I administrate but I'm not sure they'd appreciate the spam.

And did anyone read the Fortune magazine article about the possiblity of Mark Warner running for prez in '08?
posted by daHIFI at 4:30 PM on January 7, 2005


it's still something that they can prosecute you for. Piss off the local sheriff or DA and all of a sudden you looking at five, six misdemeanor charges (maybe even a felony or two).

Yes.

I can't imagine Warner wouldn't veto the bill, even it were to pass in Virginia's reactionary legislature.
posted by casu marzu at 4:45 PM on January 7, 2005


Fortunately, this is a Virginia thing. Solution: Move to Maryland, as nine in ten if you're a Virginian bothered by this, you live in the Land of the Slugline.

Guess, I'm one of the 10% then, as I don't live in slugline land. Maryland isn't much better on Consitutional laws, and in fact, is much worse on some.

I wrote my representatives today and will be calling them next week. The best thing we can do is pressure our government to stop these kind of bills making it into law.
posted by SuzySmith at 6:20 PM on January 7, 2005


I see shit laws like this as a more subtle form of a police-state than the brownshirts or storm-troopers (at least, less overt).

More subtle, and thus, harder to fight.

What Stalin got wrong is that it's actually easier to maintain "order" with a low level of oppression than it is with intense oppression. That insight spurs folks like John Cosgrove & kin to bring us back, by steps, to the Puritan times, when the community regulated itself....
posted by lodurr at 9:10 PM on January 7, 2005


I'm sure no one will read this, but I received the following email reply from Rep. Cosgrove this morning:

Hello:

I am Delegate Cosgrove and I wish to respond to the allegations that have been made by those who have emailed and called my office. The intent of House Bill 1677 is to require the notification of authorities of a delivery of a baby that is dead and the mother has not been attended by a medical professional. This bill was requested by the Chesapeake Police Department in its legislative package due to instances of full term babies who were abandoned shortly after birth. These poor children died horrible deaths and all that the person responsible could be charged with is the improper disposal of a human body.

The requirement for twelve hours comes from the method that a coroner would use to determine if the child had been born alive or dead. After twelve hours, it becomes next to impossible to determine if the child was alive due to decomposition gasses that build up in the body.

My bill in no way intends that a woman who suffers a miscarriage should be charged for not notifying authorities. The bill in no way mentions miscarriages, only deliveries. After discussing the bill again with our legislative services lawyers, I will include language that will define the bill to apply only to those babies that are abandoned as stated above.

I would never inflict this type of emotional torture on a woman who has suffered such a traumatic event as a miscarriage, and I am confident that the General Assembly of Virginia would also not pass such a terrible imposition on a woman.

I hope that you will understand the original intent of this bill. This bill has nothing to do with abortion, contraception and especially miscarriages. If you were alarmed by this bill or by the websites, I am sorry. I hope that this will explain the concept and intent of this bill.

Sincerely,

John A. Cosgrove


The law is still a ginormous bunch of crap...but amazing that a group of people managed to get the language of a bill properly limited within less than 24 hours.

Now that's government!
posted by OhPuhLeez at 9:33 AM on January 8, 2005


ohpuhpuleez beat me to it..
posted by glenwood at 10:50 AM on January 8, 2005


These poor children died horrible deaths and all that the person responsible could be charged with is the improper disposal of a human body.

Huh? That sounds implausible. Improper disposal of a human body sounds like it covers leaving already dead bodies somewhere while not being involved in the person's death. If you leave a living, full term baby in a trashcan and it dies, you can't tell me that's not eligible for prosecution under child abuse statues at a minimum, or manslaughter or even murder under certain circumstances. Any lawyers that can weigh in?
posted by pitchblende at 6:01 PM on January 8, 2005


As I said - still a ginormous bunch of crap. VA has safe haven laws, has requirements for reporting an infant death...there's an ulterior motive here.
posted by OhPuhLeez at 11:34 PM on January 8, 2005


Update: Bill withdrawn by Cosgrove.

See story here in the Virginian-Pilot.
posted by pitchblende at 1:16 PM on January 11, 2005


[from pitchblende's link]
Opposition to the bill, HB1677, was generated by “blogs,” personal Web sites set up by individuals who post information and encourage discussion about topics of interest to them.

nice job, people. There's hope for us yet.
posted by mdn at 2:22 PM on January 11, 2005


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