Miscarriage = Prison in Utah

Remember when George W. Bush was first elected, and he talked about the new “compassionate conservatism”?  I guess the heartless, soulless conservatism we were all used to was getting stale.  It seemed like a good idea—hey, you can be a religious wingnut but still care about the other people on the planet—win/win!  Alas, it didn’t stick.


Case in point: Recent events in Utah.


Here are the facts I’ve gleaned from the media:  A teenaged girl lived in poverty in a rural part of Utah.  She’d received no information about contraception.  Sex ed is illegal in Utah, except for the “abstinence only” curriculum that is ignored by every teen in the state, judging by their pregnancy and STD rates.  The girl became pregnant.


It is legal to get a first trimester abortion in Utah, but there are only three providers in the state and they are all in Salt Lake City, hundreds of miles from where this girl lived.  Question: how does an impoverished teen travel hundreds of miles to get an abortion?  Answer: she doesn’t.


So time went by and the girl was seven months along.  As if her life didn’t already suck enough, her weasel creep boyfriend told her he would leave her if she didn’t terminate the pregnancy.


The girl took action.  She offered a man $150 to beat the crap out of her and, she hoped, cause a miscarriage.  He accepted.  In the basement of his parents’ house, he punched and kicked her, concentrating his efforts on her belly, leaving her bruised and bloodied.


Law enforcement got involved and the man was arrested and charged.  He received a sentence of five years in prison.  The baby survived the assault.  The girl gave birth and baby has been adopted. 


Now, in my view, the girl’s actions do not suggest that she is evil.  Instead, the whole thing reeks of the most rank and hopeless desperation.  And if I were a Utah state legislator, I would look at this horrific event and wonder what Utah could do to ensure that no other woman or girl felt so hopeless and so desperate as to do a thing like that.  Even an anti-abortion legislator, if he or she were a compassionate conservative, might try to think of ways to make every pregnant teenaged girl in the state feel like she was still loved and valued by her community.  Like she would receive support and assistance, whether she chose to keep the child or give it up for adoption.  I would want a pregnant teenaged girl to be loved enough by all the people around her that even if her dirtbag weasel creep of a boyfriend threatened to split, she would not do something rankly, hopelessly desperate because that asshole was all she had.


But that’s just me. 


Enter Republican Representative Carl Wimmer.  A conservative of the non-compassionate variety.  His response to this awful case: introduce a bill that would criminalize miscarriage.  That’s right, Wimmer did not see a hopeless, desperate girl.  He saw evil, and he was incensed that under current state law, that evil, evil girl would not be punished. 


The original version of the bill made it a crime to lose a pregnancy through intentional or reckless or negligent action.  In other words, pretty much any woman who miscarried could potentially be charged with murder.  When an uproar began, Wimmer dropped the “negligent” part.  The legislature passed the bill, but the governor threatened to veto it.  Wimmer dropped the “reckless” part, too.  The governor signed it into law.


From alternet:


To put this in human terms, had Rep. Wimmer’s bill been on the books last spring — and had the 17-year-old’s fetus not survived — she would have faced a prison sentence of 15 years to life. Rep. Wimmer says he’s OK with that because the teenager has to face the “consequences of her barbaric actions.” 


Fifteen years to life for that pathetic and desperate girl.


Even without the “negligent” or “reckless” language, the law presents enormous danger.  Imagine: an unwilling father beats his pregnant wife or girlfriend, resulting in the death of the fetus.  He claims she wanted him to do it.  Fifteen to life for that barbaric woman.  Or, as happened recently in another state, a woman who is not thrilled to be pregnant falls down the stairs and is accused of having done so deliberately. 


To be fair, as far as I know, Wimmer never claimed to be compassionate.  Good thing, because while I can think of a number of words that describe him, that’s not one of them.



21 thoughts on “Miscarriage = Prison in Utah

  1. I’m with turningreen.  Excellently done.  And what a scary thing!!  This was an opportunity to do some real good, and all this legislation has done is make being a woman in that state (in this country) ever harder.  *shakes head*

  2. That is a horrifying story on a multitude of levels.  Very well-written too.   No anti-abortion legislator is ever going to seek to make every pregnant teen feel loved and valued in the community much less offer her support and assistance because in many people’s twisted minds helping someone to bear the consequences of her mistake (i.e. having sex while not married) would be the same as condoning it.  No, it doesn’t make sense as a philosophy but people are weird about “discipline.” (baby as punishment!)  And:  how is “intentional miscarriage” any different from “abortion,” which is apparently legal in the first trimester in Utah?  I don’t see how that’s going to fly…a person who gets a first trimester abortion in Utah is clearly engaging in intentional miscarriage.  An attempt to engage the Supremes, I suppose?  A real threat to Roe v. Wade, I would say.I feel I have to point out, however, that a person can be a conservative without being heartless or soulless or even necessary religious (much less a religious wingnut).  One could even be, for instance, fiscally conservative and still, say, defend the constitutional rights of accused citizens for a living.

  3. I just SAID I was going to run for the School Board yesterday.  And btw, the loudest people in a room aren’t always the most representative of the whole.  A little truism I’ve learned in Podville.  Carl Wimmer sounds less like a conservative than like a misogynistic abusive sociopathic freak.

  4. Thanks for posting this.  I’m living in Utah and following the story, and you brought up details that I didn’t know, such as that there are only 3 abortion providers in the state.  I knew it was bad, but not that bad.  The Planned Parenthood Office in Salt Lake City is actively ostracized by members of the legislature, and as far as I know, it is the only one in Northern Utah. It is scary how little most young women know about birth control options.  One thing has improved; it used to be that condoms and other over the counter birth control were kept by most grocery stores under lock and key, and you had to stand in line and ask a pharmacist to  unlock the case and wait while you made your selection.  Protests were held, and now that, at least has changed.  Ask the average teenager what options are available besides condoms, and you will get a blank stare. I have had coworkers who believed that taking an aspirin after sex, or douching with diet coke worked as contraceptives. It’s horrifying.  Well done!

  5. Anti-abortion activism and legislation is the most heinous form of disregard for human life. They’ll defend fetuses, yet look what they’ve done to the life of this woman, because of the value – or lack of it – they assigned to her life. 

  6. This is so fucked up and sad. :(What health problems does the baby have? I’m just wondering.And I can’t understand how the hell a man could beat the shit out of a pregnant girl for $150. People are so messed up.I feel sorry for the girl. And the law is obviously not going to solve any problems.

  7. Tears for that poor girl (sad and clueless, yes, but evil? NO!) and her baby.  Carl Wimmer’s response is just WRONG!     (And I’d also be in jail since I miscarried twice between babies.)     Many years ago my little sister tried to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy (not like this) but instead she had my beautiful, intelligent, amazing niece who is now happily married and studying at Yale.  You don’t know who (or what potential) you are destroying when you kill a baby.

  8. That is so screwed up. If they would just legalize abortion, this sad kind of thing wouldn’t happen, and I just don’t understand how they can make miscarriage illegal. I am not a healthy person. I would probably not be able to carry a baby to term. Does that mean I would be doing prison time??

  9. Thanks for writing so passionately about this. For what it’s worth, I think there could — and should — be plenty of common ground around the goal of reducing the number of abortions in America — both the legal ones and the “back alley” ones like this $150 pummeling that will become more and more commonplace as desperate girls and women have fewer  and fewer legal choices.To explain my point, here are a few paragraphs I sketched out in 2008. Delusionally enough, I wrote them during the presidential campaign, thinking that by e-mailing them to the right people they might end up in an Obama campaign speech in the same spirit as his “race speech” in Philadelphia. I didn’t realy write an ending, but here’s the essence of the common ground I tried to imagine:*******Anyone whose jaw has dropped at that first glimpse of their unborn child’s beating heart on an ultrasound screen or who has never quite put life back together after a drunk driver kills a pregnant loved one understands deep down that there is something more than a bundle of cells at the center of America’s abortion debate. Those of us who adamantly support choice diminish ourselves whenever we deny this. But those of us whose consciences are haunted by one-million-plus abortions each year ultimately surrender our morality if we respond by claiming sovereignty over women’s wombs.Abortion is a moral test for America. A plain reading of the Bible tells us it’s a test from God. But it’s not a test we move any closer to passing by outlawing the most  heart-wrenching types of abortions without regard for the mother’s survival or with so-called gag rules restricting what counselors can tell pregnant women or even by overturning Roe v. Wade.The God we find in Scripture is not impressed by bans or rules or Supreme Court decisions. This is a universal truth. It’s why the sharia tyranny that the Taliban inflicted on Afghanistan during bin Laden’s years in that troubled country represents a total moral surrender, a total failure before God and before humanity.To pass our moral test, we must emerge from the bunkers of our respective camps in the abortion debate. We need to come together across party lines to do the determined work of transforming our society into a hopeful, thriving, inclusive, responsible, moral America where fewer and fewer women face unwanted pregnancies and where more and more women enjoy the confidence that carrying a baby to term won’t mark the end of their own dreams and won’t be a disservice to their child. Until then, each of us bears a share of the blame for abortion.We share the blame when the shambles of our foster care system makes a woman fear for the future of a child she would put up for adoption. We share the blame when a woman working multiple jobs can’t afford regular care from a gynecologist. We share the blame when a girl spends her whole life in failing schools and can’t imagine a worthwhile future for herself, let alone for the child she’d bring into the world. We share the blame when family members of a pregnant woman in an abusive marriage can’t take a leave from work to help her escape and start a new life in safety. ***Thank you again for this post.

  10. that is so sad. My Grandma was a midwife who was in some terms, an abortionist, since she knew what herbs to take to miscarry. I wonder if they would have arrested my poor sweet Conservative Mennonite grandma? She felt for the mothers.

  11. wow…. that sounds like a story showing the signs of going back to the dark ages where witch hunts were the norm and the only way to tell if someone was innocent was to see if they would drown if tied gaged and thrown in a river…… yeah this kinda crap absolutly scare the C*ap outta me! YIKES!!!!

  12. What’s barbaric is a society where a girl would feel driven to pay someone to beat her and her unborn child.  And while Utah doesn’t sound too good in this story, it is still a part of the United States.  I could see something like this happening in many other parts of this country, where people are poor, have few resources, and face ostracism based on ignorance. Shame!

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