Virginia bill HB1677: That fetus is mine, all mine.
Virginia legislative delegate John A. Cosgrove (R-78) says “all your wombs are belong to us.”
I’ve been warning that this climate of legal antagonism and irrational hatred toward gays is just the start of the Right’s culture war. As much as they want to wind the clock back and re-closet homosexuality, they also intend to put women back “in their place,” where the womb can be controlled.
Provides that when a fetal death occurs without medical attendance, it shall be the woman’s responsibility to report the death to the proper law-enforcement agency within 12 hours of the delivery. Violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
What does this mean? A woman can be thrown in jail for up to 12 months and pay a $2,500 fine. There is comprehensive coverage on this by Maura in VA on the blog Democracy for Virginia, and I’m excerpting from there:
Does the punishment fit the “crime”?
Suffering a miscarriage is no crime, but Delegate Cosgrove wants to make it a crime for a woman to fail to violate her own privacy in the first 12 hours after a miscarriage, so let’s look at his proposed penalty.
Cosgrove’s bill says, “A violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.”
Let’s see. What other crimes are punishable as Class 1 misdemeanors in Virginia? A cursory Google search reveals just a few…
A person 18 years of age or older engaging in consensual intercourse with a child 15 or older not his spouse, child or grandchild (more commonly known as "statutory rape") burning or destroying a building or structure if the property therein is valued at less than $200 (arson) a bomb threat made by someone younger than 15 carrying a concealed weapon while under the influence of drugs or alcohol possession or distribution of fraudulent drivers’ licenses or official identification stalking threatening any public school employee while on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity purchasing or providing alcohol to minors
So, Delegate Cosgrove is basically saying that failing to violate your own privacy within 12 hours of a miscarriage is the criminal equivalent of statutory rape, arson, stalking, and other serious crimes.
…The legislative agenda of numerous anti-abortion groups includes increased reporting of fetal deaths and issuance of death certificates for miscarriages. The point is to advance the legal recognition of "personhood" for all "products of conception".
In the 2003 legislative session in Virginia, a law was passed allowing parents to request a “birth certificate” for a stillbirth, a law that is clearly in line with the agenda of anti-abortion extremists to recognize embryonic and fetal personhood. The fact that Virginia is one of the few states that requires reporting of deaths of all “products of conception” regardless of gestational age plays in to this anti-abortion agenda.
Though there is no practical benefit to the Commonwealth in collecting this information from women – in fact, there would be considerable burden placed on local law enforcement agencies This bill places the advancement of the cause of recognizing legal "personhood" for all products of conception far above the concerns of the Commonwealth and of the dignity of individual women whose privacy would be violated.
I will give this heinous bill some props for honesty by the Right wing in Virginia — they are being both clear honest about the intent, putting the onus and legal resposibility on the woman for the fetus and what happens to it. Most of the time the argument surrounds punishing the doctor, or having no real answer when pinned to the mat by someone about who gets punished if, say, abortion was recriminalized. For instance, Tom “sterilize-’em Dr. Mengele” Coburn, the new Senator in OK, has called not just for outlawing abortion but for the death penalty for doctors who break such a law. You see where this is going.
I hope and pray that the Right follows Cosgrove’s lead and makes it clear what the real intention of the Right is for the culture war — control of women and devaluation of their rights. Let’s make the real intent an open discussion.
Obviously, this is something Virginians should take action on with their local officials, and for all others to spread the word. Cosgrove is an agent of the anti-choice Right’s “values” agenda. If he succeeds, there will be a domino effect in other states.
Delegate John A. Cosgrove
General Assembly Building
P.O. Box 406
Richmond, Virginia 23218
Phone: (804) 698-1078
Fax: (804) 786-6310
Constituent Viewpoint: (800)-889-0229
There is also a Daily Kos diary on this by Maura in VA.
Thanks to House Blend reader Winged Cat for the pointer.