Wednesday, February 24, 2010

NWW: Just Stuff

It's nearly wordless, but I couldn't keep entirely quiet today.

The Utah legislature has passed a bill that makes having a miscarriage something you can be prosecuted for. Criminal homicide with up to life in prison for a sentence to boot. This, for all you out there who still think that being pro-choice is a tiny thing, is why I am so wedded to my belief. (via Feministing)

Just days after I bitched and moaned about being over-run by Jehovah's Witnesses they're planning a mass exodus! I'd like to say I had something to do with it but I suspect my cold shoulder was little motivation for such a committed group.

Oh, and these pictures? They were taken by my friend, A, one of Diego's people. She lives across from the park so noticed all these fabulous creations cropping up and was able to get photos that night. By the time I got there the next morning they were in different stages of being dismantled. (Read: vandalized)


  1. Can you explain (either here or by email) how the Utah amendment and a pro-choice view are at odds? I'm not being sarcastic here. I'm genuinely having trouble understanding.

  2. You have to know how tempting it is to be flip and ask, How is it not?

    In all seriousness, because this is serious, it is legislation to control how a woman uses her body. Any time you legislate to control someone else's body you are taking away her choice. I know it may seem like a gray area because they're using a sensational case to base it on but it's not.

    Think of it this way, what if there was a case where a man had a heart condition and he wanted to run marathons. Your group thinks that life is precious so he shouldn't be allowed to endanger his life in this way so you create a law that says that people with certain physical attributes aren't allowed to run marathons or they will be subject to punishment, up to life in prison (because their life is so precious it should be spent in confinement at the expense of the state). That would be anti-choice.

    So is this.

    (Yeah, the analogy isn't perfect but I just got home from a concert to benefit a 39-year-old woman battling aggressive breast cancer. I do not have my best debating shoes on. If you're still confused ask me again tomorrow and I'll try again.)

  3. Monitoring how a woman behaves during her pregnancy so that she isn't "criminally negligent" would be tantamount to an extreme of society that is wholly unacceptable. That said, how to deal with the woman who has so little regard for her body and her baby that she knowingly - by drinking to fetal alcohol syndrome, or drug use, or... - creates a health-compromised situation that results in a terribly ill or dead baby? I am not trying to be combative here - I do strongly believe in woman's right to choose - but I see grey areas here, as well.

  4. You don't monitor how a woman behaves during her pregnancy. You look into what conditions of the society she is living in make it preferable for her to court injury or death with amateur abortion attempts and address those.

  5. I kind of want to have a winter wedding now so that I can have a giant snow wedding cake of which the "cutting" will be scooping into snow cones.
    Oh my gosh, I'm now so freaking excited about that I must find a beau, stat!

  6. Point of clarification -- the feministing article states "A bill passed by the House and Senate in Utah this week could make it a crime to have a miscarriage, with penalties up to life in prison" while the next paragraph reads "The bill passed by legislators amends Utah's criminal statute to allow the state to charge a woman with criminal homicide for inducing a miscarriage or obtaining an illegal abortion.".

    To clarify, the law states "for inducing" NOT "for having." As someone who has had a miscarriage, there is a big difference between having a miscarriage and inducing a miscarriage.

    I say this not in support of the law. I consider myself reservedly pro-choice. But no one is getting any brownie points from me from an inaccurate citation of the law in question.

  7. As I said above, any legislation on someone's body is anti-choice and therefore something I'm against. This law has some very specific language, which you cite, that is there only for appearances sake. I will be very surprised if we do not see women prosecuted for "inducing" abortion by drinking alcoholic beverages, overeating, over-exercising, under-exercising, refusing some treatment foisted on them by a medical professional, or whatever else the prosecutors care to use against a woman who has a miscarriage. In a state where it's already quite difficult to be respected as an autonomous human being this is disastrous. Whereas I understand your contention, I think that for the people involved in the creation of this law, and ultimately for the women living under it, the difference between having and inducing will be of little matter. It's an awfully big difference for them to be minimizing but make no mistake, that's what's happening.

  8. Forgot a conclusion:

    Which is the point I think that Feministing is making by using that phrasing. They say it could do such a thing because the wording leaves that door wide open.

  9. I would respectfully offer two points of information to your argument, now that you've clarified (and thank you for putting your thoughts out there, by the way).

    First, the Utah amendment makes the contention to induce a miscarriage by intentional criminal behavior is feticide. Not any behavior. Intentional criminal behavior. The amendment as written does not seem to impose limitations on what a pregnant woman may do with her body. It seems instead to be designed specifically to protect an unborn fetus from the effects of criminal behavior. In that respect, it is rather more like a drunk driving law than one that tells a man with a heart condition he can't run marathons. Drunk driving laws don't impose penalties for drinking too much. They only impose penalties for driving afterward because it puts others directly at risk. There are no laws that I’m aware of which would penalize someone under a scenario such as the one you suggest.

    Second, to enforce a law in the way you contend above would be fruitless for the reason that the text of the law specifically states, “A woman is not guilty of criminal homicide of her own unborn child if the death of her unborn child: (a) is caused by a criminally negligent act of the woman; and (b) is not caused by an intentional, knowing, or reckless act of the woman.” Drinking alcoholic beverages, overeating, over-exercising, under-exercising or any other such behavior would, at worst, only be considered criminal negligence (unless the intent were specifically to cause a miscarriage, a circumstance the law is intended to address). The statute also makes clear that “refusing some treatment foisted on them by a medical professional” does not qualify as criminal homicide under the amendment. The language addresses this directly: “…a person is not guilty of criminal homicide of an unborn child if the sole reason for the death of the unborn child is that the person refused to consent to medical treatment or a cesarean section or failed to follow medical advice.”

    Given these two points, I’m still confused as to how this amendment properly qualifies as “anti-choice”, even in the broad sense you use above. Can you help clarify more? I really do want to understand.

  10. I'm very interested in this discussion to further my own understanding of the issues, but worry that this is not a great forum for detecting the nuances of communication that this kind of sensitive discussion warrants. It's something I have always worried about with the Internet. It's a great thing for communication, but not for great communication.

  11. It sounds like Suzanne is suggesting a trip to NYC. :)

  12. Oooo! Yes! But not only to talk about would be really nice to see you.

  13. Miflohny4:51 PM

    The law is antichoice, because it is treating the woman as a vessel and not as a woman with rights
    (and choices) over what she does with her body, and because it is treating the developing fetus as if it was an independent, fully formed human being, living outside of someone else's body. Inducing miscarriages is something that has been going on ever since there have been people, and it is something that desperate women turn to around the world when they feel or know that they don't have any other options.

  14. Miflohny, is it correct to say that a pro-choice view would imply that the fetus is part of the mother and, as such, should be dealt with as the mother alone wishes?

    Looking at miscarriage from the point of view of desperation raises an interesting point. We so often assume that "criminal" behavior is malicious, but this runs contradictory to the idea that behavior is often chosen for reasons that are not nefarious. Thanks for that!

  15. I agree with Miflohny up to the idea of induced miscarriage being only a desperate measure. It's a choice, desperate for some and not for others.

    Her comment reminded me that I'm assuming that everyone participating in this conversation has read this:

    That's my answer.

  16. Miflohny10:09 PM

    Wayfarer, there's a broad range of pro-choice views. I think the majority of people who are pro-choice would say that the woman definitely should have final say over what happens to her body. To value the fetus over the woman who is carrying it, or to not allow the woman who is carrying it to decide whether to carry it or not, is to treat the woman as less than a full person.

    Centuries ago, the only limitations on abortion were imposed because, after a certain point, to have an abortion would be more life threatening than to give birth. The woman's life was the prime concern. Not anymore, unfortunately. Now, if a woman is carrying a fetus that is no longer developing, she will, in most cases, be forced to give birth to a lifeless child, rather than be able to have an abortion - even though her physical and/or mental health may be greatly threatened by doing so.

  17. Kizz: Thank you for pointing to your other post. I didn't know it was there, and it gave me a lot to chew on.

    Miflohny: As I'm reading more and more about what "pro-choice" means, I'm seeing a lot of evidence of what you're saying. Although there are many shades around the edges, the primary point is that a woman should have the final say over what happens to her body (and, by extension, the fetus she's carrying).

    I've only just begun to explore the historical part of the discussion. I don't know that it's as helpful to me in terms of understanding as knowing what people are thinking right now, but I don't want to ignore it. There is a great deal of wisdom to be had in what has been before.

    Your last statement has prompted me to think more about whether there is such a thing as a way to think about all human rights (including "potential human" rights) equally. I've decided to devote blog time in my own space to that question. I cannot help but believe that perhaps there's a way to prevent such needless suffering as you describe.