Utah House Moves to Make Women Criminally Responsible for Illegal Abortions
On February 17, 2010 At 7:30 am
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In Utah, abortion laws are being debated by lawmakers who are furious about a loophole in the state's law. The proposed legislation stems from a case where a teenage girl paid a man $150 to beat her so she'd have a miscarriage. Her attempt at having a miscarriage failed and she was was jailed.
A judge released the 17-year-old Vernal girl from jail after ruling that she did not commit a crime when she allegedly paid a man to beat her in an attempt to end her late-term pregnancy.
Pursuant to legislation that overwhelmingly passed the Utah House, prosecutors would have prove that a woman's miscarriage was an illegal abortion if two out of three criteria are met: Intent, knowing and negligence. It found guilty of the two criteria, a woman would be charged with homicide for having a miscarriage … or illegal abortion.
A spokesperson for the ACLU said that these criteria are dangerous, citing a hypothetical example of a pregnant woman who has a car accident. If the woman failed to wear a seat belt and lost the fetus in the accident, knowing and negligence could be determined because (a) she would have known that driving without a seat belt poses a risk and (b) not wearing a seat belt is negligent. In such a case, she would be charged with homicide for her miscarriage.
The bill now goes to Utah's Senate. If passed, Utah would be the first state in the country to hold women criminally responsible for having an illegal abortion.
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