Criminalizing the Miscarriage

Sorry for the delay in new posts… the in/out-laws were in town this weekend, and they just left this morning… It’s been a busy week and today meant heading back to work and such. But there are posts to come…

Spending time with the in/out-laws, I learned a lot about how people change over time. I was telling DadO about my mom’s attempt to get welfare after my stepfather’s heart attack and her being denied, and he was telling me several stories about governmental corruption. MomO has changed her mind about being pro-choice, though she doesn’t identify as pro-life. Something about abortion “devaluing life”. The wife says she’s changed a lot since she started going back to church… I think part of it has to do with age. The conversation started because we were talking about the ballot initiative in Colorado (and I think there’s one up in Montana, too) which would define human life as beginning at the point of conception. This would make things really complicated, but the part that most upset the wife and I was that women who miscarry would be subject to criminal investigation – as would women who used hormonal forms of birth control, because these forms, in a very small percentage of cases, can kill a zygote. Mostly, it stops an embryo from implanting – meaning, there is no pregnancy. Medical experts currently define pregnancy as beginning at implantation, not fertilization – and implantation can happen up to two weeks after fertilization. The horror of it all is that women who miscarry – which is an extremely painful experience for some (and for some, quite joyous – don’t say I’m lying, I’ve met women who were happy to miscarry because it meant they didn’t have to abort or change their entire lives, and were thus free to plan their next pregnancy that would be carried to term) – could be subject to criminal investigations. Meaning some asshole (probably a right-wing hyper-masculine nutjob who contributed the max to McCain’s campaign and supports Fred Phelps and James Dobson) will come into their home, invade their privacy, interrogate them about every sip of wine they had and every cigarette they smoked – even the ones they had before they found out they were pregnant, because that could have caused damage to the fetus, which would then be defined as a “human,” regardless of whether or not it could survive outside the womb.

Personally, I think a fetus becomes a human life at the moment it can survive outside the womb… in rare cases, this is 22 weeks, but in most cases with medical intervention, it’s 27 weeks. for full-termers, it’s 36 weeks. If personhood is defined any earlier, a woman becomes nothing more than an incubator, and right-wingers who claim that their arguments are about “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” of the fetus, are also saying that the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for adult women is less important than of a fetus who has not breathed or cried or had a cognition. If you’re thinking right now that I’m an angry feminista, you’re right – fists up, tits out, folks, and I doubt that’ll ever change. But regardless of my feminist standpoint, conservatives should be on board with keeping this initiative from passing – small government, anyone? Quite frankly, it’ll take socialist programs to care for the children who will be born because their mothers weren’t allowed emergency contraception, the morning after pill, or hormonal birth control. What if women need hormonal birth control for endometriosis or general period regulation? And socialist programs to care for poor women who can’t afford prenatal vitamiins or adequate nutrition during pregnancy, otherwise the criminal investigation into their miscarriages and their children’s birth defects should implicate the state agencies that refused to take care of her during pregnancy.

I’m going to stop now, and this went in an entirely different direction than I had intended, but there it is…


3 Responses to “Criminalizing the Miscarriage”
  1. buddhistfemme says:

    The prospect of women who miscarry facing criminal investigation is truly terrifying. I hadn’t heard about this, but now I’ll look into it further. We should all be “angry feministas” over this. Thanks for posting.

  2. Hey, this isn’t regarding this post at all. Just wanted to say welcome to my blog, I put a reply on your comment.

    I’ll be back again later to read more. Your clear and honest reflections are valuable.

  3. Lin says:

    If we offered young people real sex education and if birth control (i.e. the pill) was covered by insurance, we could once again reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancies (not to mention the transmission of a variety of diseases including HIV). I am pro-choice but I would rather see abortion be legal, safe, and rare like it was under the Clinton administration. Reducing the incidence of abortion would be a way of showing how much life is valued, that of mothers and of children.

    If we were to do away with the option of terminating an unwanted pregnancy, we, as a nation, better damn well support the mother financially, medically, and emotionally throughout her pregnancy and once the child is born, do the same with him or her. If we don’t do that, are we really respecting life?

    Keep in mind, there are already some 160-170 million orphans on this planet. That’s equal to half the U.S. population. Just something to think about.

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