While the main thrust of the law is to enable prosecutors in the majority-Mormon state to pursue women who seek illegal, unsupervised forms of abortion, it includes a provision that could trigger murder charges against women found guilty of an "intentional, knowing or reckless act" that leads to a miscarriage. Some say this could include drinking one glass of wine too many, walking on an icy pavement or skiing.15-20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage-- without intervention.
The Ceaucescu regime, of course, went much farther than Utah's new law does, but the underlying attitude is rather similar:
[Ceaucescu] began his campaign in 1966 with a decree that virtually made pregnancy a state policy. "The fetus is the property of the entire society," Ceausescu proclaimed. "Anyone who avoids having children is a deserter who abandons the laws of national continuity."The underlying attitude being: "The fetus is the property of the entire society." That is, after all, what the Utah legislature is saying by criminalizing miscarriage. The Ceaucescu regime began the campaign with banning abortions and sex education.
Books on human sexuality and reproduction were classified as "state secrets," to be used only as medical textbooks. With contraception banned, Romanians had to smuggle in condoms and birth-control pills. Though strictly illegal, abortions remained a widespread birth-control measure of last resort. Nationwide, Western sources estimate, 60 percent of all pregnancies ended in abortion or miscarriage.Lots of places in the US ban sex education for teenagers. And some of the same people who have campaigned to ban sex education for teenagers would like to see contraception banned altogether. The ideology may be different, but the attitude toward who owns (mostly female) people's bodies is identical.
Here's what really horrified me about Ceaucescu's persecution of women back then, every time I read or heard about it:
The government's enforcement techniques were as bad as the law. Women under the age of 45 were rounded up at their workplaces every one to three months and taken to clinics, where they were examined for signs of pregnancy, often in the presence of government agents - dubbed the "menstrual police" by some Romanians. A pregnant woman who failed to "produce" a baby at the proper time could expect to be summoned for questioning. Women who miscarried were suspected of arranging an abortion. Some doctors resorted for forging statistics. "If a child died in our district, we lost 10 to 25 percent of our salary," says Dr. Geta Stanescu of Bucharest. "But it wasn't our fault: we had no medicine or milk, and the families were poor."Presumably state legislatures-- even Utah's-- won't ever go this far. Still. I lived in Utah once, and I was of child-bearing age at the time. This is creepy stuff. Deeply creepy.