Utah legislative craziness takes dark turn


Today I discussed legislative craziness, and she was surprised to discover Utah’s wackoes like Rep. Chris Buttars are national, and perhaps international stars of legislative dysfunction.  In my e-mail I get notes talking about a silly resolution from South Dakota’s legislature.

Then I stumbled into this:  “Utah bill criminalizes miscarriage.

From what I’ve read of the bill, I agree that’s what it would do.  It’s sitting on the Utah governor’s desk right now, deserving a veto, but probably headed into the Utah Code.

If it becomes law, women might be well advised to avoid any activity while in Utah, certainly not skiing or snowmobiling, nor hiking or river running, nor even jogging.  A woman who had a miscarriage within a week of skiing in Utah would be hard put to provide evidence exculpating her from a charge that her actions caused the miscarriage.  The contest of expert testifiers could be tremendously expensive.  Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, California and other states offer all of those activities, but without the specter of a murder charge to women who miscarry later.

No, there’s no excuse for a woman who doesn’t know she’s pregnant.

Yes, I know the bill was designed to punish the bizarre behavior of some people who attempt to induce abortion by physical activity early in a pregnancy.  No, I don’t think this bill does that job well, either.

You legislative drafters, take a look at the bill.  The language is bizarre, it seems to me — it backs into a law by defining what is not covered.  I see some great ambiguities.  The bill excuses medical abuse of the fetus — failing to get medical care for the mother, for example, which leads to death of the fetus — but calls into question any action a woman might take in seeking an abortion from a medical practitioner.  It seems to me that the bill directly strives to outlaw all medical abortions, though one section says that seeking an abortion is not covered.

Debaters would have a field day with the enforceability problems of this bill.

Oy.  From Chris Buttars, the craziness disease has spread to the entire Utah legislature.

Is there a quarantine law in Utah, for people who carry dangerous infections?

Resources:

  • Best description and discussion I’ve seen on the bill, at the New York Times; it confronts head on the chief problem with this proposed law:  It criminalizes the activities of a desperate young woman who needs counseling and other help, but does not need to be jailed, nor deserve it:

Lynn M. Paltrow, the executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a nonprofit group based in New York, said the focus on the child obscured the bleak story of the teenager, who also deserves, she said, empathy from the world, and the law.

“Almost nobody is speaking for her,” Ms. Paltrow said. “Why would a young woman get to a point of such desperation that she would invite violence against herself? Anybody that desperate is not going to be deterred by this statute.”

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