Your Miscarriage Might Land You in Jail

Jacqueline Burt Cote

jail cellWarning: When I first heard what I'm about to tell you, I nearly started shaking with shock, horror, and rage. So get ready ... this year, Georgia legislature considered passing a bill that would require women to prove that their miscarriages occurred "naturally" and were not, in fact, "secret abortions." Okay wait, it gets worse: States including Mississippi and Alabama have already prosecuted dozens of women who suffered miscarriages or stillbirth with murder.

I'm sorry, did I accidentally take a time machine back to Salem, circa 1692?? Because this sure as hell feels like a witch trial.

Here's how gestapo "law" enforcement officials are getting away with this outrageous hunt: By alleging that a woman used drugs during her pregnancy, she can be charged with anything from "chemical endangerment" of a fetus to "depraved heart murder," even if there's no way of proving the drug use actually happened. In some cases, states are warping fetal homicide laws intended for third party attackers, like abusive husbands, to go after women suspected of killing their unborn child. If convicted, women tried for these crimes could face life in prison.

And what exactly is the point of this preposterous persecution of women who've already had to deal with the tragedy of losing a child? Well, some say the government is using a group "nobody cares about," i.e., pregnant drug addicts, as scapegoats to muddle the distinction between abortion and murder. It's something you wouldn't want to believe could ever happen in this country, but it is happening -- just like Alabama and Mississippi are considering voting on "personhood amendments" that would make birth control pills illegal on the basis that life begins the second sperm meets egg, before fertilized eggs even implant themselves in the uterus. Yeah.

Can you imagine losing a child to miscarriage or stillbirth and then being charged for its murder?


Image via Derek Key/Flickr

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