Friday, February 26, 2010

Sometimes the English language lets me down.

(And so do other people.)

There is not a single word in the English language that I can think of that can adequately express the outrage and anger that I feel about Utah's Criminal Miscarriage law.

Despite the fact that I've been talking about it all over my Internet places (Facebook, Rav forums, emailing people, etc.), I still can't properly put into words how I feel about it. When I read about it the first time, my jaw dropped. "ARE YOU KIDDING," was all I could say. And as I find out more about it, I can feel the tension build up in my FACE muscles.

And I feel absolutely powerless. I don't even live in Utah. And if I did, I don't think someone like me would be very welcome there. No one would lend any credence to my voice anyway - judging by the fact that someone would actually THINK UP this law (well, it's still a bill, right now), and the fact that SO MANY people have voted for it, it's plain to see that women, women's mental health, and women's bodies are not valued or treated with any sort of reverence whatsoever. No man who respects women would ever be okay with this, and definitely no man whose wife/girlfriend/sister/best friend/etc has had a miscarriage would ever vote to pass it. Unless he's a complete jerkoff.

This law is designed to punish intentional miscarriages. Apparently it was inspired by a teen girl who paid someone to beat her until she miscarried, because she was not able to get an abortion.

There are so many things wrong with this. First of all, I bet there would have been no need for the girl to go to such extremes if she'd had access to free and safe abortion. I myself have always been pro-choice, because I cannot fathom telling someone what to do with their own bodies, especially in regards to being pregnant. And especially having been pregnant myself. I didn't even have a difficult pregnancy, and I can't imagine having to go through what I went through WITHOUT WANTING IT. And now that I have a daughter myself, I am even more adamant that the government, religious groups, and well, EVERYONE ELSE should not be able to control women's bodies.

(To further the chain of responsibility, the girl might not have needed an abortion if she'd had access to birth control, and she might have learned about birth control if she'd had sex education that was not centered on abstinence as a solution... etc, etc. I don't know her particulars, but there actually is a lot that could have been done before she got pregnant.)

Miscarriages happen, more often than not for no apparent reason at all. They just DO. And the law isn't aiming to punish women for miscarriages like that, but it potentially could. The law cites "reckless" behavior, but doesn't specifically define it. The article I linked says that a woman could be charged with homicide if she miscarries as a result of a car accident and she wasn't wearing her seatbelt. Or if she fails to leave an abusive relationship. I'm STILL stuck on that one - you're already getting beaten savagely, and this time it even causes you to lose your pregnancy, and YOU could get arrested for homicide? And what would the man get charged for? The law ONLY cites that a woman can get punished under it. Battery is a lesser charge than homicide, isn't it?

This law is effectively punishing women for... well, DOING anything. Considering how miscarriages can happen without apparent cause, how can a woman prove that her doing anything other than lying in bed all day (which can't necessarily prevent miscarriage anyway) was not the cause of her miscarriage? I used to freak out driving over speed bumps - I can't imagine if I happened to miscarry, and someone told me that THAT must have been the reason why, and that I'm being charged for it.

How do I fight something like this? It's not even my state. And I wonder how many women in that state are powerless to fight it anyway, handicapped by either their upbringing or politics.

I just... I can't...

*ETA*
These points were brought up on Ravelry:

1. The same incident happening to two different women (let's say, falling down the stairs) might have two different outcomes. One might miscarry, and the other might not.

2. According to the law, the woman who miscarried might get prosecuted. But it's the same reckless behavior as the other woman... how long until they prosecute her too, because she COULD have caused a miscarriage?

3. If you try to kill someone, but fail, you still get prosecuted - it's called attempted murder. If the woman didn't miscarry, but fell down the stairs the same as the other woman who DID miscarry, hypothetically would she be charged with attempted criminal miscarriage?

4. ... How long THEN until they start busting women for any sort of reckless behavior at all,  because it COULD cause a miscarriage?

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