justira ([personal profile] justira) wrote2010-02-25 02:32 pm

Utah actually considers criminalizing miscarriage, my brain explodes

Hahaha, guys, I probably shouldn't write posts when I am furious but SERIOUSLY WORLD? SERIOUSLY?

Utah's House and Senate have passed a bill that would criminalize miscarriage.

The bill doesn't affect legally obtained abortions (though good luck getting one of those, ladies!), but it does criminalize anything a woman does outside a doctor's care/supervision that induces a miscarriage or abortion. Penalties range up to life in prison.

Feministing has a bunch of links, and if you want to vent (AND I SURE DO), there's always the unfunnybusiness post on the matter. From the RH Reality check article:

The basis for the law was a recent case in which a 17-year-old girl, who was seven months pregnant, paid a man $150 to beat her in an attempt to cause a miscarriage. Although the girl gave birth to a baby later given up for adoption, she was initially charged with attempted murder. However the charges were dropped because, at the time, under Utah state law a woman could not be prosecuted for attempting to arrange an abortion, lawful or unlawful.


As someone in unfunnybusiness noted:

In a country where birth control is available and abortion is legal, a 17-year-old girl pays a man to beat her up to induce a miscarriage and the only PROBLEM you see here is that she can't be charged with attempted murder?

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?

That clusterfuck is beyond words.

I don't understand, guys. I just don't.

Not only is this a superfun slippery slope to criminalizing "reckless" behaviour while pregnant (or even "pre-pregnant", bob and mary help us all), whether you're aware of your pregnancy or not— not only are the causes of miscarriage and certain conditions like fetal alcohol syndrome poorly understood but blamed on women anyway and used to control womens' choices and behaviour — but, in the particular case that sparked this, seriously, it's the GIRL who's the problem? What the fuck happened to the MAN who beat her up for money?

In fact, what happens to the guy in all of these scenarios? Where is the man in all of these discussions of reproductive responsibility? Where is the reliable hormonal birth control for men? Where is the medicalization of their private lives and bodies, the yearly checkups they must have if they want to be able to control their reproductive state? Where's the recommendation that men get the Gardasil HPV vaccine? Where is the criminalization of reproductive coercion?

Actually? You know what? Let's set aside individuals. How about society's part in this failure? Where is the comprehensive sexual and reproductive education for our children and youth? Where is the freely available contraception? If every life is to be valued and loved, where is the extravagant amount of funding for foster care of unwanted children? Where are the open adoptions? If really seriously every life is to be valued, and not just you know, white people's lives, what are we doing to address the massive disparity in abortion, STI, and teen pregnancy rates between black and white women? Every life is precious? Are you sure??

Fuck me sideways, people. Are you fucking kidding me?


If we are going to talk about women, and women's bodies (newsflash: women are not solely their bodies), and women's choices, then — oh no, wait a minute, I lied. We can't talk about women's choices, because women can't be trusted to make choices.

That's what this comes down to. I see no way around that.

This is about whether or not women can be trusted to make choices about their lives, their reproductive state, their children. About life. The "pro-life" label annoys me on many grounds, many of which — how many pro-lifers are also for the death penalty, how many pro-lifers oppose giving their tax dollars to social programs that help mothers and children — can be summed up very simply: the right to life begins at conception and ends at birth. But the real reason this label annoys me is that it plays a short, ugly game of linguistic acrobatics: the label implies that the opposing position is somehow NOT pro-life.

I was talking / raving at [personal profile] seventhe about this, and she hit it pretty square (QWP): I hate using "pro-life" because, uh, we're all pro-life! NOBODY *WANTS* A GODDAM ABORTION OKAY. Nobody's ever like "Man, am I gonna get pregnant and then abort the shit out of it." We just understand that sometimes life, overall, or the quality thereof, is better served in one way than another?

To me, the pro-choice movement is ALSO a pro-life movement — just with a broader definition of "life". Not restricted to whether or not a fetus has a heartbeat and is born alive, but broadly encompassing the entirety of life, with all its complications and richness. Like, you know. Womens' lives. The quality of womens' lives, not simply whether she is breathing or not. Hell, this of course includes the child, too — the quality of life of a child born to a mother didn't want a child and can't support one, a child given away to a foster care system that is severely underfunded thanks to the tax-chariness of the same people who insisted upon that child being carried to term. Many people, of course, go through that system fine and live full lives and are awesome despite how deeply society has failed them. But if we're going to be pro-life, can't we be pro-life start to finish? Can't we fund programs for children (foster, adopted, or not), fund every child's education and enrichment? Can't we give every person the health care they need?

(Everything is connected.)

Can't we trust a woman to think hard about her choices and in the end say, "no, this is not what I want for my life, not what I want for any child of mine"? That's what it comes down to. That is it. Either you think women are somehow insensible of the fact that abortion is, you know, ABORTION, and can't be trusted to choose for themselves... or you believe women are human beings with brains and souls and wants and needs. We all remember that superbowl ad about Tim Tebow and his mother, right? She made a choice to carry her son to term, against medical advice. And here I was going YES YES THAT IS WHAT WE WANT. That is EXACTLY what we want, letting women choose. Which Planned Parenthood's response makes pretty clear (though I kind of wish they'd let women speak for themselves, but I suspect this was a strategic use of cranking it up to 11). This is about trusting women to make choices for themselves, for their own reasons.

Christ on a cracker.

Also worth mentioning: the HUGE pressure on women to reproduce— even when they can't afford to. A well-known fertility clinic in my area has been running a particular radio ad for months. I sadly can't find a copy of the ad online to actually quote it, but the gist goes like this: there's a recession, times are tough, but I can still spend heaps of money on fertility treatments and have a baby even when I can barely afford my own life. This isn't the ad I'm thinking of, but it's from the same center and is close enough. And then there is the presumption that a family without children is incomplete, not a proper family, so when are going to start a family? You better do it before you're 30, or 90% of your eggs will shrivel up! And then it's back to the fertility clinic, but watch out, if you have the gall to delay having children for that long you will probably have some kind of gross disabled kid. Better get a gene scan just to make sure and keep working on those cures! Unless you're some lazy unemployed slut, in which case you should be sterilized against your will. Feminists / liberals / pro-choicers / whathaveyou don't get a free pass here, either, not when shit like this and this needs to be said. Not to mention this and this. Not when you use a misogynist slur to describe one of the lived realities of women in childbirth. In short: white, non-disabled upper-class women are to have white, non-disabled children, whether they want them or no, and be goddamn happy about it.


In sum: fuck you, lawmakers of Utah. Fuck you and the storm of stupidity you rode in on.

[I know I haven't even come close to covering all the issues surrounding this bill, and I chose to focus on some of the implications of the case that sparked it. Others have done a better job, and you can find them linked in the earlier parts of this post.]
shanaqui: Phèdre from Kushiel's Legacy. ((Phèdre) Thorny rose)

[personal profile] shanaqui 2010-02-25 08:04 pm (UTC)(link)
When I first saw this, I sat there wordless. I'm still fairly wordless now. I applaud you for getting any words out at all, and boosting the signal in your own way.
temples: ([fujioka] bad unhappily)

[personal profile] temples 2010-02-25 08:21 pm (UTC)(link)
It's always interesting to see law's attempt at humanising a fetus, and how it usually ends up dehumanising the mother at the same time.

If that poor girl in the above story had felt like she actually had a choice in the matter to begin with rather than being driven to such drastic circumstances, this issue wouldn't might not even exist right now.

Thanks for this post. It's an issue that would have never even reached me otherwise.
Edited 2010-02-25 20:28 (UTC)
temples: ([gimmy/darry] your offering pleases)

[personal profile] temples 2010-03-05 06:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Thought I'd offer this if you hadn't already been made aware.
lassarina: I'm not coming out until the stupid people have gone away.  ....I can wait all day. (Default)

[personal profile] lassarina 2010-02-26 01:46 am (UTC)(link)
This. Yes. (I was getting ready to write this post tonight, actually, and you have articulated it better--and with more links--than I would have. So I'm just going to link yours instead. Damn it, Ira, I needed those words for GYWO!) But in all seriousness, THIS. Exactly. Christ on a cracker.
lauredhel: two cats sleeping nose to tail, making a perfect circle. (Default)

[personal profile] lauredhel 2010-02-26 04:19 am (UTC)(link)
Spectacular rant! Thankyou.

The only part stopping me linking it is the capitalised epithet at the start of the penultimate paragraph - are you open to considering a different metaphor?
lauredhel: two cats sleeping nose to tail, making a perfect circle. (Default)

[personal profile] lauredhel 2010-02-26 05:28 am (UTC)(link)
Awesome, thankyou :)
zooey_glass: (Ani di Franco: God's work)

[personal profile] zooey_glass 2010-02-27 09:39 pm (UTC)(link)
I would add something but you said pretty much everything I thought when I saw that story. What the fuck, seriously?