Utah Bill Equates Miscarriages With Criminal Homicide- REALLY.
A bill in the Utah state legislature that has passed both the House and Senate this week now awaits Governor Gary Herbert’s signature- and will make it a crime for a woman to have a miscarriage, as well as make induced abortions a crime in some instances.
The penalty? Up to and including life in prison.
The Utah Senate has joined the House in allowing homicide charges against expectant mothers who arrange illegal abortions.
The Senate on Thursday approved HB12 on a vote of 24-4, criminalizing a woman’s “intentional, knowing, or reckless act” leading to a pregnancy’s illegal termination. It specifies that a woman cannot be prosecuted for arranging a legal abortion.
From RH Reality Check:
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.
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.
See that one? A woman can still get a LEGAL abortion in Utah- for now.
More on why THAT is below the fold.
“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.”
A woman’s intentions or actions now up for debate and/or criminal charges. The potential here is chilling.
Gawds help the perpetually clumsy such as myself- and for the record, my own mother at age 19 tripped down a flight of stairs when she was 3 months’ pregnant with me.
Obviously all turned put fine (well….), but what if a similar incident to this occurred in Utah?
Could the expectant mother face charges of attempted homicide?
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.
“This creates a law that makes any pregnant woman who has a miscarriage potentially criminally liable for murder,” says Missy Bird, executive direct 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.”
But what if she IS wearing a seat belt- is it then a case of manslaughter?
What about a woman who has a spontaneous miscarriage as her flight crosses into Utah’s air space?
Will the next step by Utah lawmakers be designing a law that charges doctors, nurses, or others with knowledge of this supposed “criminal activity” as having aiding and abetted these criminal women, if they themselves do not report to the authorities?
“Big Brother, Utah Style”, anyone?
Some lawmakers disagreed with the bill’s wording:
Some Senate Democrats attempted a last-minute amendment to remove the word “reckless” from the list of criminal acts leading to miscarriage.
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.
“It’s part of the cycle of domestic violence,” said Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City.
“I hope none of you ever have to face that situation,” she said after realizing the majority would pass the bill as is, “or have a daughter facing that situation, or a granddaughter.”
This next, from the bill’s sponsor, is unbelievable…
But the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said the bill doesn’t target victims at all — only those who arrange to terminate their pregnancies illegally.
“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.”
No, we simply want to criminalize any woman who does not maximize her womb’s God-given potential!What next? Criminalize hysterectomies and tube-tying procedures?
But Senate sponsor Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said the bill is designed for cases only like the one in that county and doesn’t tread too far into women’s private lives.
“We don’t want to get into lifestyle choices.“
Ah, all is clear- a woman who miscarries due to domestic violence is guilty of “making a bad lifestyle choice” and THAT is worthy of a life sentence in prison.
Among the Conservative goals in Utah, the ultimate banning all abortions (essentially wiping out Roe V. Wade) is posing potential financial difficulties for the state, which is why this pre-emptive first step legislation. From last month:
Conservative Utah legislators have decided to delay movement on a bill seeking to ban all abortions in the state except in cases of rape, incest or permanent physical harm to the woman because of concerns that the state could not afford to defend the measure in court, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
State Rep. Carl Wimmer (R), who is involved in the effort, said a private group has said it would defend such a ban in court and pay legal expenses but that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff “would have to give up the right to defend it.”
However, Paul Murphy, a spokesperson for Shurtleff, said that the Utah Constitution mandates that the attorney general defend such cases.
Wimmer said Shurtleff is “passionate” about defending the ban and has proposed a separate bill that would create a legal defense fund to defend the bill at a later date.
Wimmer said, “We are looking at wanting to ban abortion in Utah, period, end of story. However, we want to do it correctly. We’re not going to back away from abortion. We’re never going to let it die.”