A disturbing bill is making its way through the Utah legislation. HB 12 has passed both the State Senate and the House and is now awaiting a signature from Governor Gary Herbert. The bill is a response to a case where a young, pregnant Utah woman allegedly paid a man to beat her so she would miscarry.
HB 12 was supposedly designed to criminalize illegal abortions, treating them as homicide. However, some language in the bill has dangerous implications for pregnant women. The bill states, “A person commits criminal homicide if the person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, with criminal negligence, or acting with a mental state otherwise specified in the statute defining the offense, causes the death of another human being, including an unborn child at any stage of its development.”
What is reckless is using that very term in the bill. The law is open to interpretation of just what is “reckless” behavior by a pregnant woman. Is it having a glass of wine, eating fish or soft cheeses, staying in an abusive relationship, or wearing high heels? After all, falling down the stairs while pregnant is a criminal offense, too.
Critics of the bill also dislike the fact the bill is designed to prosecute pregnant women, not someone who might cause that woman harm. And, it may cause women to avoid necessary medical treatment. Substance abusers could shy away from getting help for fear of being prosecuted. And women who suffer miscarriages, even in the first trimester of pregnancy, could be viewed as suspects in a homicide.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, sponsored another bill recently, HB200, which would allow clinics to provide ultrasound images of a fetus to a woman before she undergoes an abortion. However, a woman seeking an abortion already has the option to view an ultrasound if she wishes.
Wimmer told the Deseret News, “the intent of the bill is simply to give women more information about the procedure free of charge if they want it.”
Wimmer is proud of the work he has done to “chip away” at Roe v. Wade. His stance is “basic human rights for the unborn.” Apparently, he has no interest in the rights of women already born.
photo credit: thanks to jordanfischer via flickr