Opinion Brief

Utah: Making miscarriages a crime?

Utah lawmakers have passed a bill that would make intentional or 'reckless' miscarriages punishable by life in prison

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"

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SEE MORE OF THE WEEK'S RELATED COVERAGE:
Atlanta's pro-life billboard uproar
Tim Tebow's Super Bowl ad scandal
David Frum: The pro-life delusion

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