Just weeks after entertaining a plan to save money by making 12th grade optional, lawmakers in the Beehive State are again provoking national controversy. Under a bill that has passed the legislature and awaits signature by the governor, miscarriages that result from an "intentional, knowing, or reckless act" would be treated as illegal abortions, punishable by life in prison. As a response to a single incident in which a woman allegedly paid a man to beat her and induce a miscarriage, has Utah gone too far? (Watch a report about miscarriages in Utah)
This bill is scary: This is a terribly idea generally, but the use of the word "reckless" is "especially concerning," says Anna North at Jezebel. Under the terms of this law, women could be prosecuted if they "failed to wear a seat belt"—or even if they "fell down the stairs." It's bad enough when legislators target "abortion providers," but this law "targets women themselves."
"The next anti-choice target: Miscarriage"
It's about protecting lives: This bill is only aimed at those who "arrange to terminate their pregnancies illegally," says state Sen. Margaret Dayton (R), a sponsor of the bill, in the Salt Lake Tribune. Such as the Utah woman who allegedly paid a man $150 to beat her and cause miscarriage. "Reckless behavior" is deliberately vague: "I don't think we want to go down the road of carefully defining" what it might entail.
"Measure on illegal abortions heads to governor"
The bill isn't even logical: Where will this insanity end? asks Dan Savage in The Stranger. Will Utah launch a criminal investigation "every time a women has a miscarriage?" One in four pregnancies end that way. Utah will either have to create a "pregnancy registry" to keep track, or force every women in the state to "come in for mandatory pregnancy tests" once a month. Surely not even Utah would go that far, would it?
"When miscarriages are a crime"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Rise of the machines
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- It's time to kill school picture day
- The uncomfortable truth in The Giving Tree
- Ban PowerPoint!
- 5 words that are spelled weirdly because someone got the etymology wrong
Subscribe to the Week