Criminal Miscarriage - New Legislation in Utah - Phoenix Women’s Health
This week, Utah overwhelmingly passed a bill which declares women criminally liable in some cases of miscarriage. Obviously this is a very sensitive subject, and it is difficult to remain objective when considering the implications. Firstly, let us talk about what this bill is NOT.
It is not directly worded to prevent abortion, stating specifically that abortion sought legally is not eligible for prosecution under this law
It is not a “Mormon” law
Utah HB12 amends the term “abortion” under Utah state law to ” amending the definition of abortion to relate only to a medical procedure carried out by a physician, or through a substance used under the direction of a physician, with the consent of the woman on whom the abortion is performed…”
There are many states with laws allowing prosecutors to charge perpetrators of assault and other violent crimes against pregnant women with a second crime against the unborn child. Most state laws pertain to the life of a fetus from the start of the third trimester, when there is a viable chance that if the fetus were delivered, it could survive outside the womb. In Arizona, the law protects the fetus at any time during gestation as follows:
“The “unborn child in the womb at any stage of its development” is fully covered by the state’s murder and manslaughter statutes. For purposes of establishing the level of punishment, a victim who is “an unborn child shall be treated like a minor who is under twelve years of age.” Senate Bill 1052, signed into law on April 25, 2005, amending the following sections of the Arizona Revised Statutes: 13-604, 13-604.01, 13-703, 13-1102, 13-1103, 13-1104, 13-1105, 13-4062, 31-412, 41-1604.11 and 41-1604.13. “
The Utah law is unique in that it allows the mother to be prosecuted under certain circumstances. This bill is the reaction to a 17 year old girl who, in her 7th month of pregnancy, paid a man $150 to beat her to attempt to cause a miscarriage. The child survived and has been adopted. The man involved has been sentenced to jail. The girl was unable to be charged due to the legal boundaries of the time of the incident.