March 15, 2010

Utah Governor Signs Controversial Law Charging Women and Girls With Murder for Miscarriages

If you want a beautiful example of why health reform is badly needed and why the well being of our fellow Americans should never ever be left to conservatives, this is a great example. When left unchecked, they’ll go around passing laws like this, without any concern for the people who’ll actually be affected by them – all in the name of so-called moral principle and superiority, when in reality what it boils down to is an almost obsessive need for the conservative base to own not only the halls of the state, but you as a peripheral of it – and then never let go.

When conservatives talk about Obamacare as “socialist” and “nazist” and “communist,” they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about (because if they bothered to look up the meanings of the words they use, they’d see that clearly) but it’s legislation like this that borders on “your body is property of the state” fascism – the same kind conservatives claim to be against, but would never lift their finger towards because they agree.

On Monday afternoon, a controversial Utah bill that charges pregnant women and girls with murder for having miscarriages caused by “intentional or knowing” acts, was signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert.

Contrary to media reports last week, the “Criminal Homicide and Abortion Amendments” or HB12, which previously also applied to miscarriages caused by “reckless” acts, was never “withdrawn” by its sponsor, Republican Representative Carl Wimmer (who is crafting similar “model legislation” for other states). After the governor expressed concern over “possible unintended consequences,” of the legislation as written, Rep. Wimmer swiftly introduced a new version, titled “Criminal Homicide and Abortion Revisions” (HB462), which omitted the word “reckless.” Gov. Herbert signed the new bill and vetoed the old one.

Nevertheless, women’s and civil rights groups say the new, just-signed version of the bill is just as dangerous.

“We are still passing legislation which seeks to criminalize women for their actions,” Marina Lowe, legislative and policy counsel for the ACLU of Utah, told AlterNet. “The language is still problematic.”

In the end, this is another piece of legislation that’s making small inroads to criminalizing abortion by criminalizing very specific abortions and behaviors that lead to the end of a pregnancy that don’t result in a bouncy white baby. Planned Parenthood is completely correct here:

Planned Parenthood’s Melissa Bird says the same questions that so alarmed the bill’s earlier critics still apply to the rewritten version that was just signed into law.

“What happens to women who are in abusive relationships?” she asks. “What happens if a woman threatens to leave the abuser, falls down the stairs and loses the baby? What if the abuser beats the woman and causes a miscarriage? Could he turn her in? Who would the prosecutor believe? What happens if a drug addict who’s trying to get clean loses her baby? Will she be brought up on murder charges?”

Rep. Wimmer claims such women would not be prosecuted because they didn’t knowingly act to terminate their pregnancies. But Bird says that is not necessarily the point.

“Even if the prosecutor doesn’t take the case, nothing precludes a woman from being brought to the attention of law enforcement in the first place,” she said. “What we’re doing is driving women underground and preventing them from getting health care and prenatal care.”

To put this in human terms, had Rep. Wimmer’s bill been on the books last spring — and had the 17-year-old’s fetus not survived — she would have faced a prison sentence of 15 years to life. Rep. Wimmer says he’s OK with that because the teenager has to face the “consequences of her barbaric actions.”

“It’s pretty rare for a politician to openly support jail time for girls who have abortions, no matter how desperate they seem to be” a 40-something abortion provider who asked to remain anonymous, told AlterNet. “This is extreme. Mark my words. If they can get away with this, they will try to make abortion illegal in the state of Utah. People need to wake up.”

The fact that this provider didn’t want to give his or her name just proves the point that this brand of conservatives have already made inroads entirely too deep into our health communities. The fact that abortion providers have been bombed, shot, and otherwise killed because they dare provide reproductive health services to women who desperately need them in the form of something tested and proven and healthy and not just “go home and pray,” proves that the far religious-right has lost their concience and instead is focused entirely on making sure they can legislate morality for the rest of us.

[ Utah Governor Signs Controversial Law Charging Women and Girls With Murder for Miscarriages ]
Source: AlterNet

1 Comment »

  1. Uh. I get so tired. So tired of this, over and over. Don’t these non-medical, and non-scientific people understand that something like 40% of all fertilizations end in miscarriage? No, I suppose not. Ignorant people. I really thought that the energy I spent in the 60’s and 70’s and 80’s would have born more fruit than this, but its back to bashing bibles again. It’s overwhelming sometimes.

    Comment by John Trester — August 30, 2010 @ 5:17 pm

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