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Feb 18 2013

Sending women and doctors to jail for abortion

Anti-abortion activists who want to outlaw the procedure entirely have usually shied away from answering the question as to what punishment should be meted out to the women and doctors who get abortions anyway, since they know that there is not much support for putting such people in jail. Most people realize that people get abortions because they are desperate and should not be treated as criminals.

But some legislators in Iowa view abortion as a crime that should carry similar punishments to murder and have introduced a bill that goes even further, defining even a zygote as a person and arguing that the termination of any pregnancy that occurs under any circumstances, even rape, should be pursued by prosecutors in the same way as they would a murder.

The bill was introduced by a Republican legislator and is expected to die without becoming law since Democrats have the majority in the Iowa legislature. But we should expect similar attempts in other states, especially those in which Republicans are in control.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    slc1

    Gee, since the theocrats think that god is in charge and since more then 1/2 of all fertilized eggs fail to implant, then, under this hypothesis, god should be indited for murder.

  2. 2
    TGAP Dad

    WoW II?

    First ultrasound rape, and now criminalized abortion. What’s next, witch trials? Inquisitions?

  3. 3
    DaveL

    I know in Michigan the law demands that the county Medical Examiner investigate the death of any person who died while not under the care of a physician. If they define the zygote as a human being that could be interpreted (indeed, it’s hard to see how it could not be) as requiring an investigation into every miscarriage, if not every period if the woman was sexually active in the month prior.

  4. 4
    kevinkirkpatrick

    Would it be in poor taste to ask sexually active women in Iowa to begin bringing their used tampons into police stations and filing “possibly missing person” reports?

    Something tells me that after a few such visits (or a few hundred, if need be), legislators would have little choice but to go back to the drawing board.

  5. 5
    AsqJames

    we should expect similar attempts in other states, especially those in which Republicans are in control.

    I’m not so sure. As much as we enjoy laughing at the true wingnuts who would support such a move, I think most (or at least enough) of the Republican party are realistic enough, and rational enough, to think about the consequences of actually jailing a woman/doctor for having an abortion. While the abortion issue is useful for getting their conservative christian base animated, they’re surely capable of reading polls.

    Gallup, and other polling shows a consistent, if small, majority favour either the status quo or less strict laws on abortion. Unless prosecutors were extremely careful about the cases they pursued I can’t see those numbers becoming anything but disastrous for the GOP once we start seeing women/doctors going to jail.

    I’m not saying abortion rights aren’t under threat, they clearly are in any number of ways. It might even be possible for something like this bill to pass in a very red state, though I think the saner Republicans would be able to bury it in committee or something. But I do think the more subtle attacks (and that’s a very relative term) we’ve seen over the last few years are more of a problem. Having a legal right to an abortion is not much use if all the abortion providers in your state have been put out of business.

  6. 6
    David Hart

    slc1: “god should be indi[c]ted for murder.”

    We don’t need to know anything about zygotes to reach that conclusion; the Old Testament is God’s written confession to multiple charges of genocide.

  7. 7
    leni

    Would it be in poor taste to ask sexually active women in Iowa to begin bringing their used tampons into police stations and filing “possibly missing person” reports?

    Why yes, yes it would >:D

  8. 8
    machintelligence

    It is happening in Colorado too. At least one (very conservative) political commentator attributes it to rookie Republican legislators trying to impress the folks back home, even though Democrats have solid majorities in both houses. He urges them not to introduce bills that stand no chance of passage and only serve to make Republicans look absurd. It’s good advice, but not many are following it.

  9. 9
    ema

    Most people realize that people get abortions because they are desperate and should not be treated as criminals.

    Or, most people realize that people get abortions because they make a personal medical decision to terminate a pregnancy and shouldn’t be treated as criminals.

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