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Anti-Abortion Movement Breaks Promise Not to Investigate Miscarriages

Anti-Abortion Movement Breaks Promise Not to Investigate Miscarriages

When anti-abortion activists began passing law after law after law closing clinics, banning abortions after certain points in gestation, passing massive waiting periods and other restrictions, they constantly accused those who supported reproductive rights of being dramatic when we claimed that eventually these laws would lead them to investigate miscarriages.

So much for us being dramatic. They are now officially investigating miscarriages.

According to Raw Story, Texas police were called in to a local high school, where what was later identified as a fetus was found in the toilet of a bathroom typically used by students. Police and school officials are questioning students and checking surveillance tape to learn “the identity of the mother,” according to Fox News.

Despite having no idea what the medical situation was, including the age of the alleged fetus, whether it was stillborn or not, or whether the miscarriage was natural, anti-abortion activists are reminding the public that in situations like these, it’s really in everyone’s best interest that the pregnant person carry to term in order to protect herself from possible criminal charges. “And that’s a happy ending when [safe haven law usage] happens, because the baby is safe, the mother is protected from any sort of prosecution, so it’s a win-win for both of them,” Alan Elliott of anti-abortion group Baby Moses Dallas told local news.

Police, meanwhile, made it clear during their investigation that they intended to find the pregnant person and demand answers. “Police say they don’t know how far along the mother’s pregnancy may have been, but they want to know the circumstances of how it ended,” reports the local CBS affiliate.

The questioning and tape combing apparently worked, as they were able to identify the pregnant person and confirm that yes, indeed it was a simple miscarriage and nothing illegal occurred. “The Dallas Police Department said Tuesday that the fetus found in a bathroom at Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas ISD on Friday was the result of a miscarriage,” reports Dallas Morning News. ”‘We have spoken to all involved. There is no criminal case to file in regards to the fetus,’ police spokeswoman Monica Cordova said.”

While it is good news that no criminal case is being filed, it’s alarming that the potential is even there. What the high school bathroom investigation has made clear is that police are now operating on an “investigate first, dismiss later” assumption that in every miscarriage situation that they encounter, they will treat it first as a potential crime until they are given evidence that proves otherwise.

This gives police and even medical professionals incredible leeway to decide when they will continue an investigation, use their own personal biases to decide if a situation looks like a natural or induced miscarriage, or if they feel the pregnant person should be held to some sort of fault for causing the miscarriage in the first place. It opens up the door for doctors who refuse treatment of patients or question them under duress to find “missing babies” or charge women who did any drugs while pregnant if they have any sort of complicated birth.

This assumption of guilt will be especially devastating for teens, who are more susceptible to miscarriage because of lack of knowledge about sex itself, and lack of access to prenatal care, which helps make for healthier pregnancies. In Texas, where family planning funds have been decimated, family planning clinics shuttered, and a concerted effort has been underway to ensure nothing but abstinence only education is provided in local schools, that is a perfect storm for teens who may not know how to prevent pregnancy, how to tell if they are pregnant, or how to reach out for help to keep themselves and their pregnancies healthy. Together, those are issues that result in more teens giving birth early, and getting pursued by the police when they are found out.

We don’t have confirmation that the miscarriage was in fact related to a student, although that seems fairly likely. What we do know in Texas is that whomever did actually miscarry a pregnancy in public, in a school bathroom, underwent a both physically and emotionally painful medical situation, tried to do so privately, and instead had to both watch that event become a public news story and answer to the police. No doubt what was already a traumatizing situation became that much more so all because a school district and local authorities assumed there may be criminal charges to be pursued, until they learned otherwise.

We were told that no one would be investigating miscarriages. Obviously, we were lied to.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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83 comments

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1:55PM PDT on Sep 28, 2014

What a shocking development. The antichoice crowd once more proving why I consider them just this side on some days and on the other side of being domestic terrorists.. Now using the State to do their dirty work. This why we can never stop fighting for women right.

Why it is important to understand that one fine day. These same antichoice crowd will turn on any man not of their religion. Dictate what he will or will not do with his body and reproduction.

If you do not think so.. Call it being overly dramatic. Which side they would investigate miscarriage.. And which side said it would never happen.. Please, do refresh my memory.....

8:37PM PDT on Sep 15, 2014

Anything that comes out of the mouths of the anti-choice can be taken with a grain of salt. Don't trust it as far as you can throw it.

10:50PM PDT on Sep 11, 2014

Thank you

6:37AM PDT on Sep 11, 2014

Thank you for giving us the facts Marianne. That clears it up alot and makes the “investigation” even sillier.

9:07AM PDT on Sep 10, 2014

Oh please don't they have anything better to do?

7:45AM PDT on Sep 10, 2014

Having a miscarriage is completely different than having an elective abortion. I find the behavior in this case incomprehensible, very frightening and appalling. I would be more concerned about the person who miscarried and her welfare. Having lost a baby in the toilet and the resulting emotional trauma being treated as if I were a criminal would have been unbearable.

1:48AM PDT on Sep 9, 2014

Thank you

7:04AM PDT on Sep 8, 2014

ty

2:36PM PDT on Sep 7, 2014

Here's the thing. The police always investigate potential crimes. If I found a fetus, or what I thought was a newborn, in a toilet, I'd call the police. I would want to know that if a crime occurred, it would be taken care of. I would also want to know that if this wasn't a crime, at least the person who had the miscarriage would get help. If the person who had the miscarriage stayed with the fetus, called for help, or visited the nurse, and the cops still investigated, I'd have a huge problem. Obviously, I know why this person didn't tell anyone. I'd be scared out of my mind, not to mention in tremendous pain. But everything about this instance appeared suspicious, so the police needed to investigate. I don't think this is an example of the police criminalizing pregnancy and miscarriage. There has been plenty of that happening though and it needs to end. I hope the person who had the miscarriage got the medical attention and support they need and that their privacy is preserved.

1:24PM PDT on Sep 6, 2014

so awful

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