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Miscarriages Illegal In Utah

By The Reverend Published: March 8, 2010

It is yet to be seen whether hyper, anti-choicer, Bart Stupak (D-MI), will single handedly derail the Democratic health reform plan by rallying his

Republican Blue Dog buddies to vote against the reconciliation changes to the already-passed legislation.

Bart Stupak tells Americans, falsely, that the health reform bill, as passed in the Senate, permits tax dollars to be spent for abortion. That is not true. The Senate bill goes to great pains to spell out how even poorer families who receive government subsidies in the new program, and who want to purchase coverage for abortion and/or reproductive services, can do so only by paying for the reproductive service portion of the insurance plan with their own money. Democratic Senator, Ben Nelson (D-NE), made sure that the Senate version of the bill included segregated and tedious accounting of government subsidies and purchaser guarantee no tax dollars were used to purchase the reproductive services portion of the insurance....while still making it possible for insurance companies in the exchanges to offer reproductive services.

Bart Stupak and his Blue Dog Buddies, and all House Republicans, would like to further diminish the legal right of women to choose....and are using the mechanism of health care reform to do so. What anti-choicers would like to see in a health care to have abortion coverage dropped from most all insurance plans offered nationwide. Even though such a provision would not end a woman's right to choose, it would make a woman's legal right to choose more difficult. For anti-choicers, simply making it more difficult for women to obtain a legal abortion, is a victory.

That's why forced-pregnancy proponents harass women outside abortion clinics. The anti-choice groups know they can't legally overturn Roe, and so they have chosen, instead, to try to kill abortion rights by a thousand tiny cuts. The Stupak noise is simply another swipe of the knife.

Conservatives who oppose a woman's right to choose think what Bart Stupak is doing is moral and good...even though he's lying through his teeth about the Senate version of the health care bill.

But this stuff isn't just about left or right isn't about what a conservative thinks...or what a liberal thinks.....It's about women's rights.

Here's a prime example for all to consider....

Utah just became the first state in the U.S. to criminalize miscarriage and punish women for having or seeking an illegal abortion. Utah's "Criminal Miscarriage" law:

•expands the definition of illegal abortion to include miscarriages
•removes immunity protections for women who have or seek illegal abortions
•treats women as presumptive criminals and leaves them open to criminal prosecution

But even among states that punish illegal abortions, this "Criminal Miscarriage" law is unique.

It not only punishes individuals who perform illegal procedures; it punishes women.

This law:

•defines legal abortion as a procedure "carried out by a physician or through a substance used under the direction of a physician." Anything else that terminates a pregnancy is now defined as illegal abortion - including miscarriages.
•states that "The killing or attempted killing of a live unborn child in a manner that is not abortion shall be punished as...criminal homicide." (emphasis mine)
•removes existing immunity from criminal prosecution for women "who seek to have or obtain an abortion" or "upon whom a partial birth abortion is performed."
•applies the legal standard of an "intentional, knowing or reckless act of the woman" as punishable as criminal homicide.

Translation: If a woman has a miscarriage but didn't know that she was pregnant, she cannot be charged with criminal homicide. So while this law does not criminalize all miscarriages, anything that could be defined as "knowing" or "reckless" would leave a woman at risk for criminal prosecution.

The ACLU of Utah has put this law into real-life terms...

Practically speaking however, this bill changes the presumption that abortions obtained in this state are legal. If this bill is signed into law, women in this state will essentially be in the uncomfortable and unfortunate position of having to prove that abortions they obtain (or miscarriages that they suffer) are not unlawful.


A woman who fails to wear a seatbelt and is in a car accident could be charged with reckless homicide, should she miscarry. Likewise, a woman who has a substance abuse problem is likely to forego necessary prenatal care out of fear that she could be prosecuted for "knowing" or "reckless" homicide by continuing to use illegal substances while pregnant.

The Utah legislature has already passed this bill which makes it illegal, and punishable, in some cases for a woman to have a miscarriage. The vote in the Utah House was 59-12, the Utah Senate 24-4.....and according to a special provision in the bill, the Utah governor won't have the power to veto it.

Utah state legislators, just like Bart Stupak, know they cannot overrule Roe entirely. Because they cannot overthrow Roe altogether, these anti-choice, forced pregnancy zealots are hell-bent on making a woman's legal right to choose as difficult and potentially dangerous as possible.

Imagine for a, in Utah, a woman not only has to worry about her own pregnancy....she also has to worry about being charged as a criminal if she miscarries.


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