Utah, the most comically awful state in the union, is now becoming substantially worse, in a decidedly non-comical way. Both chambers of the state legislature passed new legislation that will define miscarriages due to reckless behavior as criminal homicide, which could result in the guilty party facing up to life in prison. To prove “reckless behavior,” a prosecutor might only have to argue that a woman drank too often, or even stayed in an abusive relationship. She could also be found guilty of a crime if she attempted to have an illegal abortion that resulted in a miscarriage.
A blogger at DailyKos writes:
Utah’s “Criminal Miscarriage” law:
* expands the definition of illegal abortion to include miscarriages
* removes immunity protections for women who have or seek illegal abortions
* assumes women are “guilty of criminal homicide of an unborn child” if a pregnancy ends after “intentional, knowing, or reckless” behavior.
But even among states that punish illegal abortions, this “Criminal Miscarriage” law is unique. It doesn’t punish individuals who perform illegal procedures; it punishes women.
The post quotes this passage from a letter (PDF) written by the Utah ACLU:
Practically speaking however, this bill changes the presumption that abortions obtained in this state are legal. If this bill is signed into law, women in this state will essentially be in the uncomfortable and unfortunate position of having to prove that abortions they obtain (or miscarriages that they suffer) are not unlawful.
Anna over at Jezebel spells out what this means:
Women might also make themselves open to prosecution if they failed to wear a seatbelt and got in a car accident, if they stayed with an abusive partner, or even if they fell down the stairs, like a woman in Iowa who found herself jailed on suspicion of “attempted feticide.” This woman eventually got off only because she wasn’t yet in her third trimester — but unlike Iowa’s feticide law, Utah’s new bill would apply throughout pregnancy. Given that 15-20% of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, 80% of those in the first trimester, Utah could have a lot of work ahead.
So there’s your 12,057th reason not to go to Utah. Ugh.