Criminalizing women who suffer miscarriages?!

January 7th, 2005 – 9:29 pm
Tagged as: Uncategorized

Here’s a noxious bill by an ignorant Republican state legislator from Virginia:

It sounds preposterous to talk about criminalizing women who suffer miscarriages, but one Virginia legislator is proposing just that. HB1677, “Report of Fetal Death by mother, penalty” is a bill introduced by John A. Cosgrove (R) of Chesapeake. Cosgrove’s bill requires any woman who experiences “fetal death” without a doctor’s assistance to report this to the local law-enforcement agency within twelve hours of the miscarriage. Failure to do so is punishable as a Class 1 Misdemeanor.

Just when you think those paragons of backwardness on the right can’t sink any further, they do. Apparently Cosgrove is claiming that this is intended to fight the scourge of newborn babies dumped in the trash or something, but since it doesn’t actually deal with infants, either he’s really ignorant about biology or he’s got another agenda. In his case though, it’s probably both.

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  1. 1

    This whole concept generates a sort of aghast horror in me. Coming from a long line of very conservative people, I tried and tried to come up with a rationale, religious or otherwise, and failed. And there are so many flaws in this….

    1. It’s called “spontaneous abortion” for a reason. The woman in question has no control over it. The most common statistic I saw was that 1 in 8 *confirmed* pregnancies end in miscarriage. Why on earth should she be held accountable for a natural function? Perhaps it’s that alternate term that set off Cosgrove. He just saw the “a” word and freaked out.

    2. After a little bit of jaunting around various sites, I discovered that up to 40% of women might miscarry and not even realize it happened, because it occurs prior to them having realized they’re pregnant. So now, the woman is committing a crime without her knowledge.

    3. Where is the man in this? If he got her pregnant (it still takes two), shouldn’t he be just as legally responsible for the miscarriage? And if you are aware that your wife, girlfriend, mother, sister has just had a miscarriage and not reported it in 12 hours, does that make you an accessory? Why is gender separation on this issue so often perpetuated?

    4. Miscarriage can take an immense physical and emotional toll on a woman – depending on how far the pregnancy has progressed. So, now, on top of that, she’s a potential criminal? A number of sites I visited stressed not blaming yourself for the miscarriage as there can be so many contributing factors (for example, the American College of OBs and GYNs says more than half of miscarriages are due to flaws in the fetal chromosomes). But this law would put women in a position where they have to deal with exactly the opposite.

    5. And I don’t even want to think that hard about victims of sexual abuse who so often find themselves unprotected by the law, but might very well find themselves prosecuted under this one.

    I think the idea I’ve seen on various blogs of mailing used feminine articles to Cosgrove so he can have them tested for possible miscarriage sounds eminently reasonable in the face of something this ridiculous.

    Comment made by Jennifer on January 8, 2005 @ 9:59 am

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