A Different Kind of Blog

news and things sacred and irreverent put together by opinionated people.

Utah Bill Criminalizes Miscarriages

Posted by Enkill_Eridos on February 27, 2010

By Rachel Larris, RH Reality Check

February 20, 2010 – 9:00am

A bill passed by the Utah House and Senate this week and waiting for the governor’s signature, will make it a crime for a woman to have a miscarriage, and make induced abortion a crime in some instances.

According Lynn M. Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, what makes Utah’s proposed law unique is that it is specifically designed to be punitive toward pregnant women, not those who might assist or cause an illegal abortion or unintended miscarriage.

The bill passed by legislators amends Utah’s criminal statute to allow the state to charge a woman with criminal homicide for inducing a miscarriage or obtaining an illegal abortion. 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.

The bill passed by the Utah legislature would change that. While the bill does not affect legally obtained abortions, it criminalizes any actions taken by women to induce a miscarriage or abortion outside of a doctor’s care, with penalties including up to life in prison.

“What is really radical and different about this statute is that all of the other states’ feticide laws are directed to third party attackers,” Paltrow explained. “[Other states’ feticide laws] were passed in response to a pregnant woman who has been beaten up by a husband or boyfriend. Utah’s law is directed to the woman herself and that’s what makes it different and dangerous.”

In addition to criminalizing an intentional attempt to induce a miscarriage or abortion, the bill also creates a standard that could make women legally responsible for miscarriages caused by “reckless” behavior.

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.

“This creates a law that makes any pregnant woman who has a miscarriage potentially criminally liable for murder,” says Missy Bird, executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Utah. Bird says there are no exemptions in the bill for victims of domestic violence or for those who are substance abusers. The standard is so broad, Bird says, “there nothing in the bill to exempt a woman for not wearing her seatbelt who got into a car accident.”

Such a standard could even make falling down stairs a prosecutable event, such as the recent case in Iowa where a pregnant woman who fell down the stairs at her home was arrested under the suspicion she was trying to terminate her pregnancy.

“This statute and the standards chosen leave a large number of pregnant women vulnerable to arrest even though they have no intention of ending a pregnancy,” Paltrow said. “Whether or not the legislature intended this bill to become a tool for policing and punishing all pregnant women, if enacted this law would permit prosecution of a pregnant woman who stayed with her abusive husband because she was unable to leave. Not leaving would, under the ‘reckless’ standard, constitute conduct that consciously disregarded a substantial risk,” Paltrow explained.

While many states have fetal homicide laws most apply only in the third trimester. Utah’s bill would apply throughout the entirety of a woman’s pregnancy. Even first trimester miscarriages could become the basis for a murder trial.

Bird said she is also concerned that the law will drive pregnant women with substance abuse problems “underground;” afraid to seek treatment lest they have a miscarriage and be charged for murder. She said it directly reverses the attempts made, though a bill passed in 2008, to encourage pregnant women to seek treatment for addiction.

Paltrow added that the commonly thought belief that pregnant women who use drugs are engaging in behavior that is likely to cause a stillbirth or a miscarriage is wrong.

“Science now makes clear that drug use by pregnant women does not create unique risks for pregnant women, although it is likely that among those targeted for prosecutions by this statute will be women who go to term under drug usage,” she said.

The bill does exempt from prosecution fetal deaths due to failure to follow medical advice, accept treatment or refuse a cesarean section. Bird said this exemption was likely because of a 2004 case where a woman who was pregnant with twins was later charged with criminal homicide after one of the babies was stillborn, which the state deemed due to her refusal to have a cesarean section.

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Utah worked together to “amend the hell out of the bill,” Bird said. One of their few accomplishments was at least dropping the legal standard of “negligence” from the bill, a much lower standard than “recklessness.”

Bird was shaken with emotion after the Senate vote. “I broke down and cried,” she admitted. “I normally never let these kind of [legislative] battles get to me.”

“What really sucks is that we had three supposed allies in the Senate, three [Democratic] women, who voted for the bill,” Bird said, adding she didn’t yet know why the three senators switched votes.

Marina Lowe is legislative and policy counsel for the ACLU of Utah. She worked in tandem with Bird on trying to derail or at least mitigate the worst aspects of the bill. Lowe says at this point she doesn’t know if there is a potential constitutional challenge to the law once it is signed by the governor.

But she points to cases like the one in Iowa as exactly the kind of situation that might arise once this law is put into place.

Paltrow says this bill puts a lie to the idea that the pro-life movement cares about women.

“For all these years the anti-choice movement has said ‘we want to outlaw abortion, not put women in jail, but what this law says is ‘no, we really want to put women in jail.'”

___________________________________

My apologies and two cents.

For one I am so very sorry to all of those who do not wish the abortion issue to be brought up yet again. But this is a story of a Civil Rights Violation. Let’s take a look at the  law that pertains to this article shall we?

76-5-201. Criminal homicide — Elements — Designations of offenses.
60 (1) (a) [A] Except as provided in Subsections (3) and (4), a person commits criminal
61 homicide if [he] the person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, with criminal negligence, or
62 acting with a mental state otherwise specified in the statute defining the offense, causes the
63 death of another human being, including an unborn child at any stage of its development.
64 (b) There shall be no cause of action for criminal homicide for the death of an unborn
65 child caused by an abortion, as defined in Section 76-7-301 .
66 (2) Criminal homicide is aggravated murder, murder, manslaughter, child abuse
67 homicide, homicide by assault, negligent homicide, or automobile homicide.
68 (3) A person is not guilty of criminal homicide of an unborn child if the sole reason
69 for the death of the unborn child is that the person:
70 (a) refused to consent to:
71 (i) medical treatment; or
72 (ii) a cesarean section; or
73 (b) failed to follow medical advice.
74 (4) A woman is not guilty of criminal homicide of her own unborn child if the death of
75 her unborn child:
76 (a) is caused by a criminally negligent act of the woman; and
77 (b) is not caused by an intentional, knowing, or reckless act of the woman.
http://le.utah.gov/~2010/bills/hbillenr/hb0012.htm76-5-201. Criminal homicide — Elements — Designations of offenses.60 (1) (a) [A] Except as provided in Subsections (3) and (4), a person commits criminal61 homicide if [he] the person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, with criminal negligence, or62 acting with a mental state otherwise specified in the statute defining the offense, causes the63 death of another human being, including an unborn child at any stage of its development.64 (b) There shall be no cause of action for criminal homicide for the death of an unborn65 child caused by an abortion, as defined in Section 76-7-301 .66 (2) Criminal homicide is aggravated murder, murder, manslaughter, child abuse67 homicide, homicide by assault, negligent homicide, or automobile homicide.68 (3) A person is not guilty of criminal homicide of an unborn child if the sole reason69 for the death of the unborn child is that the person:70 (a) refused to consent to:71 (i) medical treatment; or72 (ii) a cesarean section; or73 (b) failed to follow medical advice.74 (4) A woman is not guilty of criminal homicide of her own unborn child if the death of75 her unborn child:76 (a) is caused by a criminally negligent act of the woman; and77 (b) is not caused by an intentional, knowing, or reckless act of the woman.
What are the medically known causes of miscarriages?

The cause of a miscarriage cannot always be determined. The most common known causes of miscarriage in the first third of pregnancy (1st trimester) are chromosomal abnormalities, collagen vascular disease (such as lupus), diabetes, other hormonal problems infection, and congenital (present at birth) abnormalities of the uterus. Chromosomal abnormalities of the fetus are the most common cause of early miscarriages, including blighted ovum.

Chromosomes are microscopic components of every cell in the body that carry all of the genetic material that determine hair color, eye color, and our overall appearance and makeup. These chromosomes duplicate themselves and divide many times during the process of development, and there are numerous points along the way where a problem can occur. Certain genetic abnormalities are known to be more prevalent in couples that experience repeated pregnancy losses. These genetic traits can be screened for by blood tests prior to attempting to become pregnant. Half of the fetal tissue from 1st trimester miscarriages contain abnormal chromosomes. This number drops to 20% with 2nd trimester miscarriages. In other words, abnormal chromosomes are more common with 1st trimester than with 2nd trimester miscarriages. First trimester miscarriages are so very common that unless they occur more than once, they are not considered “abnormal” per se. They do not prompt further evaluation unless they occur more than once. In contrast, 2nd trimester miscarriages are more unusual, and therefore may trigger evaluation even after a first occurrence. It is therefore clear that causes of miscarriages seem to vary according to trimester.

Collagen vascular diseases are illnesses in which a person’s own immune system attacks their own organs. These diseases can be potentially very serious, either during or between pregnancies. In these diseases, a woman makes antibodies to her own body’s tissues. Examples of collagen vascular diseases associated with an increased risk of miscarriage are systemic lupus erythematosus, and antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. Blood tests can confirm the presence of abnormal antibodies and are used to diagnose these conditions.

Diabetes generally can be well-managed during pregnancy, if a woman and her doctor work closely together. However, if the diabetes is insufficiently controlled, not only is the risk of miscarriages higher, but the baby can have major birth defects. Other problems can also occur in relation to diabetes during pregnancy. Good control of blood sugars during pregnancy is very important.

Hormonal factors may be associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, including Cushing’s Syndrome, thyroid disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome. It has also been suggested that inadequate function of the corpus luteum in the ovary (which produced progesterone necessary for maintenance of the very early stages of pregnancy) may lead to miscarriage. Termed luteal phase defect, this is a controversial issue, since several studies have not supported the theory of luteal phase defect as a cause of pregnancy loss.

Maternal infection with a large number of different organisms has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. Fetal or placental infection by the offending organism then leads to pregnancy loss. Examples of infections that have been associated with miscarriage include infections by Listeria monocytogenes, Toxoplasma gondii, parvovirus B19, rubella, herpes simplex, cytomegalovirus, and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. Abnormal anatomy of the uterus can also cause miscarriages. In some women there can be a tissue bridge (uterine septum), that acts like a partial wall dividing the uterine cavity into sections. The septum usually has a very poor blood supply, and is not well suited for placental attachment and growth. Therefore, an embryo implanting on the septum would be at increased risk of miscarriage.

Other structural abnormalities can result from benign growths in the uterus called fibroids. Fibroid tumors (leiomyomata) are benign growths of muscle cells in the uterus. While most fibroid tumors do not cause miscarriages, (in fact, they are a rare cause of infertility), some can interfere with the embryo implantation and the embryo’s blood supply, thereby causing miscarriage.

Invasive surgical procedures in the uterus, such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, also slightly increase the risk of miscarriage.

http://www.medicinenet.com/miscarriage/page2.htm

There are actual valid medical reasons for invasive surgical procedures in the uterus.

They left a huge hole in this bill.  In the State of Florida they actually define the terms in the laws themselves. I actually posted the full Florida State abortion law once, and it did have a glossary of terms in it. The word reckless can mean many things. In order to prove reckless acts the State of Utah would have to violate the womans Civil and Privacy Rights. Would the State of Utah concider Sex while Pregnant as a “reckless” act?(Which really is a fence topic. Some OB/GYN’s say its okay and some say don’t. Since an average penis does not actually penetrate into the uterus I would say it is unlikely..) Also a patients blood could attack a fetus if the woman isn’t given a shot. It depends on if the woman is RH positive or not. If you accidently become pregnant and get a miscarriage because of your blood would that be reckless? Even if you didn’t know you were pregnant?

In short a huge win for Pro-Life Conservatives who obviously think Civil Rights, is a bad thing. I AGREE WITH THE AUTHOR..THIS IS WHAT THE PRO-LIFE SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS WANTED ALL ALONG.

more articles on the same topic:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emma-rubysachs/utah-cant-afford-twelfth_b_477981.html

http://www.nytimes.com/1991/03/09/us/harsh-loophole-in-utah-abortion-law.html?pagewanted=1

Utah’s Anti-Abortion Law Criticism:

http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/choice-action-center/in_your_state/who-decides/state-profiles/utah.html?templateName=lawdetails&issueID=5&ssumID=2862

Before Kay starts ranting about me being left..I couldn’t find any commentary on pro life blogs and webpages that I know of about this subject.

13 Responses to “Utah Bill Criminalizes Miscarriages”

  1. Enkill_Eridos said

    Read the Iowa link…I mean this is a very troubling sign of “Reverse Ignorance” made by the right!

    Like

  2. dorian said

    well with the extremist anti-rights (that’s what i like to call pro-lifers) groups, civil rights is null and void.there are no “special cases” acceptable. this is what they want. criminalize all abortions.how is that not oppressive and violating of human rights?

    Like

  3. kay~ms said

    This is silly… this article gives the impression (in title) that thru no fault of their own, a woman can be prosecuted for having a spontanious miscarriage…

    It’s ludicrous to even think that.

    This article is talking about INDUCED miscarriage of a LATE TERM fetus..A BABY… This is against the law… but until this specific law was passed.. there was a “loop hole” that allowed a woman to purposefully murder her baby.. something Scott Peterson got a death sentence for and no one objected to that.

    The title of this article is very misleading… the idea of prosecuting / blaming a woman for a spontaneous miscarriage is nothing any sane person would promote.

    Like

  4. kay~ms said

    I have a comment in moderation.

    Like

  5. kay~ms said

    ” this is what they want. criminalize all abortions.how is that not oppressive and violating of human rights?”

    How is taking away a person’s entire life not oppressive and violating of human rights??

    Like

  6. dorian said

    for anyone else who do not like wasting precious time with redunDunces and tail-chasing please go to

    https://tothewire.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/cavemans-response-to-fox-news-post-by-tothewire/
    many abortion viewpoints are covered there, featuring comments from (almost) all adkob authors and regulars. it’s an interesting thread.

    do leave new comments here. thank you.

    Like

  7. kay~ms said

    How come my Pro life comment is “redunDance” and “tail chasing” but your pro choice comment (#2) isn’t??

    See? yet another double standard… just like calling me intolerant for not agreeing with other beliefs.. while apparently it is ok for you to not agree with my belief.

    Like

  8. Kay I implied no such thing. It is a criminal felony (which means prison time) in the state of Utah if you have a miscarriage due to “recklessness”. But in the actual law (I included a link.) it never defines what recklessness actually is. There is nothing misleading in the title IT IS A FELONY TO HAVE A MISCARRIAGE IN UTAH. Unless, you can prove it was not due to “recklessness” this opens a whole lot of doors that are constitutionally protected. This law infringes on the constitutional right to privacy. So if you can’t prove that the Miscarriage was because of medical reasons that would mean you would have to be going to the doctor regularly. Luckily the Republicans are not blocking existing forms of government funded health care..Medicare for Pregnant Women actually does exist. If you were going to the doctor regularly, you were planning it. What if you was not? Many women have gone for two months being pregnant and not even know it. In fact that happens a lot. What if you have to go to the hospital you didn’t know what was going on, you find out it’s a miscarriage. That could be construed as “recklessness” because the woman did not know about it…I mean that is how the term can be interpreted. Since the Bill never defined it, it would go to the criminal term. Which would make that scenario a possible one.

    THIS IS WHY I AM PRO-CHOICE. NOT BECAUSE I AGREE WITH ABORTIONS, IN FACT I AM AGAINST THE PRACTICE. BUT I CAN PREDICT THAT ANTI-ABORTION LAWS AND STATES THAT ENFORCE THEM WILL DO SO ZEALOUSLY, CREATING THE OPPORTUNITY FOR A PERSONS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO BE DISREGARDED. UNTILL UTAH ACTUALLY AMENDS IT, WITH THE TERM DEFINED FOR CLARITY I WILL SAY THE LAW IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. BECAUSE THERE IS MANY SERIOUS FLAWS, ONE OF WHICH IS HOW DO YOU PROVE IT WAS BECAUSE OF “RECKLESSNESS” WITHOUT VIOLATING CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. THERE IS NO CIRCUMSTANCE WHERE AN AMERICAN CITIZEN HAS TO ALLOW VIOLATIONS OF HIS OR HER CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.

    Like

  9. Also the law does not include a list of exemptions, such as a pregnancy where the woman did not know about it. Or falling down the stairs on accident. A woman getting rear-ended, or getting in a front end collision while parked in a grocery store and she was getting out. Because the woman should have disabled the airbag, since she was pregnant…I mean there is a huge grey area that allows a judge, or prosecutor to use personal judgement. A Extremist Christian, would definately want to punish this woman, even if she publically expressed second thoughts. See its not against the law for a miscarriage to happen because of the various medical reasons. But some of those reasons could also fall into “recklessness”. What about if the prosecutor used his religious views? What if the woman drank caffine while pregnant? (There is no actual study that says IT WILL, the study was inconclusive saying statistically its a 50/50 chance. You understand that it is against the Mormon faith to drink caffinated drinks? Utah is the Mormon Capital of the US. Add it up.. There is a lot of potential for constitutional rights violations.

    Like

  10. kay~ms said

    Where does it say that having a miscarriage is against the law?? I couldn’ find it..

    also could you show me where the word “reclessness” is used?

    Are you actually proposing that people want to convice someone for an accident or an event that is beyond their control??

    Like

  11. kay~ms said

    Here’s a paragraph from the Huffington post link..

    “What I want to know is, how can a state that can’t afford to keep twelfth grade afford to launch all these complicated criminal investigations into the pregnancy status and reckless actions of Utah’s women?”

    My common sense tells me that they won’t investigate all of these miscarriages… this law is designed to prosecute women who for example… PAYS someone to go and beat her up so that their 7 month old unborn BABY will DIE.

    Clearly the law is designed to protect the defenseless and innocent.

    And again, no where does it say that miscarriages are illegal. You and all liberal pro choice people are just trying to twist things.

    Like

  12. Oh yes, because we try to twist that a woman who accidentally falls down some stairs in Iowa and has a miscarriage is put in jail. We twist that.

    is not caused by an intentional, knowing, or reckless act of the woman;

    which they NEVER define this statement. The bill itself is actually confusing, all of Utah’s laws are actually confusing. They are riddled with questionable statements, and double talk. That is one of them. Since they never actually defined that statement, one can infer if a woman who knows she is pregnant, let’s say she falls down her porch, or a flight of stairs. The State of Utah could prosecute. Or if she loses her baby in a car accident involving an air bag and her not wearing her seatbelt(I will include accidents that happen while the car is parked since the airbag will deploy in that situation as well.), that statement without it being defined could be grounds for prosecution on any of these examples. A Miscarriage is when a pregnancy is terminated without the medical procedures used in abortions. Legally a Miscarriage is when your body aborts a pregnancy. You may not think that one sentence really matters, but it makes all the difference in a court room. So put two and two together here. If you have a miscarriage due to an outside influence, whether it be your fault or not. The State of Utah could prosecute you.

    You anti-American Conservatives like to twist things as well. Since you are against Liberal ideals (Living free, The Constitution etc.) you call the sniveling whiny left Liberals, when they ARE NOT. This is to spread YOUR poison. Obviously you think we should live under the oppression of a government that makes laws based on a religion. I AM A LIBERAL IN THE TRUE SENSE OF THE WORD. I BELIEVE IN FREEDOM, AND IN THE CONSTITUTION. THAT IS WHAT A LIBERAL IS, A LIBERAL IS THE KIND OF PERSON THAT CARRIED THE LIVE FREE OR DIE BANNER AGAINST THE ENGLISH. A LIBERAL IS THE KIND OF PERSON THAT IS WILLING TO TAKE ON ANY THREAT TO AMERICAN CITIZENS LIBERTIES. CONTINUE TO USE THAT NOBLE WORD IN A DEROGATORY MANNER AND I WILL CONTINUE TO CALL YOU AN UNAMERICAN, WHO HATES FREEDOM AND THIS COUNTRY. SO EVERY TIME YOU SAY YOU LIBERALS, YOU ARE SPEAKING AGAINST THE PEOPLE THAT WANT TO KEEP YOU FREE. WHETHER THEY BE ON THE RIGHT OR LEFT. A LIBERAL COULD BE RIGHT OR LEFT BUT USUALLY IS IN THE MIDDLE. PROGRESSIVE IS THE TERM YOU ARE LOOKING FOR.

    I am actually glad they did not make ectopic pregnancy abortions illegal in Utah. I don’t disagree with the law as a whole. Just that one undefined vague sentence. That sentence is left to the readers interpretation, and is one of the few holes that can be exploited to both further Mormon Church goals, and other Special Interest Groups goals. I see a way for the law to be exploited to convict innocent women of manslaughter. Yes the law is designed to protect the innocent, but it is riddled with double talk, and holes a prosecution can use.

    Like

  13. Enkill_Eridos said

    And Conservatives love to twist things in favor of big corporations and NOT in favor to the country as a whole…take the Health Care Summit…and the Conservatives will twist things around so that the 40 million uninsured in this country will never be insured. Leaving families with children without health care. (Or is it all right for just the child to have health care, while the parents get nothing? Not every employer can afford to provide company based health care, short of on the job insurance…Luckily because we have seen the Conservative agenda for 8 years, even most conservatives are not listening to the crap…So what, the Social Security Tax will have to be risen slightly for us to actually afford it. But you forget that it isn’t just the rich that pays taxes. So the Health Care will not be free, the tax payers as a whole just finally get access to something they have been paying for. If you are that worried about your retirement, invest in Bonds or get yourself a private 401k and invest in it. Don’t rely on Social Security, or else you will never reitre.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: