PC290954OK, so perhaps this isn’t exactly “news,” in predominantly-fundamentalist thinking, majority-Mormon Utah. But a law was passed there, and signed by the state’s governor, which effectively pushes the state backward in time, closer to the Dark Ages than it had been previously. The New York Times reports on this development (WebCite cached article):

The origins of Utah State House Bill 12 lie in an act of dark and desperate violence.

Last May in a small town in eastern Utah, a 17-year-old girl, seven months pregnant, paid a man she had just met $150 to beat her up in hopes of inducing a miscarriage that would resolve her crisis. He obliged, taking her to a basement and kicking her repeatedly in the stomach.

The fetus survived the assault and was born in August. The attacker went to jail. And the girl, whose name was never released because she was under age, became the center of a legal debate — and the piece of legislation now awaiting the governor’s signature or veto. The bill would formally criminalize what she did, that is, to seek an illegal abortion.

This law effectively raises the possibility that any woman who has a miscarriage, might be prosecuted:

“Prosecutors have a lot of discretion, and miscarriage is a sad but common event in connection with pregnancy,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a nonprofit advocacy group for birth control and abortion rights. “This bill would cast suspicion, potentially, on every single miscarriage.”

Almost any kind of activity might be deemed sufficiently “negligent” or risky, to justify prosecuting a woman who miscarries … even if she did not intend for the miscarriage to occur, and even if she had no reservations about her pregnancy.

The effort here, as usual, is not to protect the unborn, as the law’s proponents claim. It is, instead, to reduce women of childbearing age to second-class citizens, whose legal rights, freedom and even their lives are compromised by the fact that they might become pregnant and thus have their actions limited by law or be prosecuted for doing nearly anything. Christians — especially of the Religious Right and Roman Catholic varieties — do not view women as “equal persons,” and laws such as this are their intended means of getting the inequality they worship enshrined in the US legal system, which otherwise affords women civil-rights protections (such as equality before the law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment among other places).

Photo credit: B Evershed.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.