The Utah state legislature is currently debating a bill that would make getting an illegal abortion or having certain kinds of miscarriages an act of criminal homicide committed by the woman. The bill does not say anything about penalties for the person providing the illegal abortion. The only penalty I could find (with about 5 minutes of googling) is that an MD who provides an illegal abortion can lose their license.
In certain circumstances it would become aggravated murder:
- it occurs while the woman is in jail (note that incarcerated women can't get legal abortions in Utah)
- the woman is pregnant with twins
- an instance where the woman has previously been convicted of rape, murder, kidnapping, or criminal homicide
In Utah the maximum sentence for criminal homicide is life in prison and the maximum sentence for aggravated murder is the death penalty
The bill starts off by saying that the death of any fetus is an act of criminal homicide and then goes and defines a bunch of exceptions that would include *most* miscarriages and *most* legal abortions.
Specifically here are the exceptions for miscarriages:
(3) 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:
(a) refused to consent to:
(i) medical treatment; or
(ii) a cesarean section; or
(b) failed to follow medical advice.
74--(4) 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.
And here are the exceptions for legal abortions:
(1) As used in this section, "viable" means that the unborn child has reached a stage of
fetal development when the unborn child is potentially able to live outside the womb, as
determined by the attending physician to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
277--(2) An abortion may be performed in this state only by a physician
281--(3) An abortion may be performed in this state only under the following
(a) the unborn child is not viable; or
(b) the unborn child is viable, if:
(i) the abortion is necessary to avert:
(A) the death of the woman on whom the abortion is performed; or
(B) a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily
function of the woman on whom the abortion is performed;
(ii) two physicians who practice maternal fetal medicine concur, in writing, in the
patient's medical record that the fetus has a defect that is uniformly diagnosable
and uniformly lethal; or
(iii)(A) the woman is pregnant as a result of:
(I) rape, as described in Section 76-5-402 ;
(II) rape of a child, as described in Section 76-5-402.1 ; or
(III) incest, as described in Subsection 76-5-406 (10) or Section 76-7-102 ; and
(B) before the abortion is performed, the physician who performs the abortion:
(I) verifies that the incident described in Subsection (3)(b)(iii)(A) has been
reported to law enforcement; and
(II) complies with the requirements of Section 62A-4a-403 .
As much as I do enjoy a good debate on the legality and morality of abortion, that isn't my purpose in making this thread. I am interested in discussing why someone would ever want to start with a baseline of "having a miscarriage is illegal" and then make exceptions. Isn't this the sort of thing that people like to claim would never happen in America when bring up the extreme examples of anti-abortions laws around the world?
This bill specifically revokes previous laws that prevent the prosecution of a woman for inducing an abortion/miscarriage herself.
This bill explicitly states that mid-levels practitioners cannot provide abortions. I don't know if this is a change or not but it seems like an odd place to make such a declaration.
My reading of the miscarriage section is that miscarriages caused by an intentional, knowing or reckless act of the woman are criminal homicide unless
that action constitutes criminal negligence and as long as her doctor didn't advise against that specific action.
WTF? Am I missing something here?
I think they are trying to make a woman inducing a miscarriage/abortion herself without the aid of a physician illegal. But they go about this in a convoluted way that looks to me like it leaves the door wide open for punishing a variety of other acts.
This bill doesn't make medical exceptions for a woman's actions. Could a woman be thrown in jail for taking a medication that has a known risk of miscarriage? It would be a knowing and intentional act that doesn't constitute criminal negligence. In many cases it would be following her doctor's advice and not going against it so she wouldn't get that exception either.
Also, as a side note, the bill uses the word person everywhere except in the section detailing legal abortions. There they use woman every single time.
And here is a link to the bill's entire text: http://le.utah.gov/~2010/htmdoc/hbillhtm/HB0012.htm