Iowa Anti-Choicers Admit They Want to Imprison Women for Abortion

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Written by Amanda Marcotte for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

A little over a month into 2013, and one thing is absolutely certain: Anti-choice legislators aren’t going to let the damage that their war on women did to their fellow conservative politicians’ electoral prospects slow them down from competing with each other to show who can concoct the most vile schemes to undermine women’s rights. Now Iowa Republicans are flexing their muscles, trying to show that they hate the ladies even more than the forced-transvaginal-ultrasound folks in Michigan, Texas, and Virginia, or the women-can’t-think-on-weekends-and-holidays nuts in South Dakota.

Nine state representatives in Iowa have introduced a bill that would define killing a fertilized egg as “murder”.

707.1 Murder defined.

1. A person who kills another person with malice aforethought either express or implied commits murder.

2. “Person”, when referring to the victim of a murder, means an individual human being, without regard to age of development, from the moment of conception, when a zygote is formed, until natural death.

Murder includes killing another person through any means that terminates the life of the other person including but not limited to the use of abortion-inducing drugs. For the purposes of this section, “abortion-inducing drug” means a medicine, drug, or any other substance prescribed or dispensed with the intent of terminating the clinically diagnosable pregnancy of a woman, with knowledge that the drug will with reasonable likelihood cause the termination of the pregnancy. “Abortion-inducing drug” includes the off-label use of drugs known to have abortion-inducing properties, which are prescribed specifically with the intent of causing an abortion, but does not include drugs that may be known to cause an abortion, but which are prescribed for other medical indications.

The point of this bill is, simply put, to throw women in jail for “murder” for deliberately ending pregnancies — and quite possibly for trying to prevent them, as many anti-choicers continue to insist, despite the evidence against them, that the pill and emergency contraception work by “killing” fertilized eggs. 

Read the rest here.

New Study Shows Anti-Choice Policies Leading to Widespread Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women

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Written by Lynn Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Read additional 2013 coverage on the personhood of women here.

The full table of contents for Volume 38, No. 2, of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law can be found here. Articles in this edition will be available for public access for a full month here.

On Tuesday, January 15th, the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law will publish our study, “Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973-2005: Implications for Women’s Legal Status and Public Health.” This study makes clear that post-Roe anti-choice and “pro-life” measures are being used to do more than limit access to abortion; they are providing the basis for arresting women, locking them up, and forcing them to submit to medical interventions, including surgery. The cases documented in our study through 2005, as well as more recent cases, make clear that 40 years after Roe v. Wade was decided, far more is at stake than abortion or women’s reproductive rights. Pregnant women face attacks on virtually every right associated with constitutional personhood, including the very basic right to physical liberty.  

Our study identified 413 criminal and civil cases involving the arrests, detentions, and equivalent deprivations of pregnant women’s physical liberty that occurred between 1973 (when Roe v. Wade was decided) and 2005. Because many cases are not reported publicly, we know that this is a substantial under count. Furthermore, new data collection indicates that at least 250 such interventions have taken place since 2005.

In almost all of the cases we identified, the arrests and other actions would not have happened but for the fact that the woman was pregnant at the time of the alleged violation of law. And, in almost every case we identified, the person who initiated the action had no direct legal authority for doing so. No state legislature has passed a law that holds women legally liable for the outcome of their pregnancies. No state legislature has passed a law making it a crime for a pregnant woman to continue her pregnancy to term in spite of a drug or alcohol problem. No state has passed a law exempting pregnant women from the protections of the state and federal constitution. And, under Roe v. Wade, abortion remains legal.

Yet, since 1973, many states have passed feticide measures and laws restricting access to safe abortion care that, like so-called “personhood” measures, encourage state actors to treat eggs, embryos, and fetuses as if they are legally separate from the pregnant woman. We found that these laws have been used as the basis for a disturbing range of punitive state actions in every region of the country and against women of every race, though disproportionately against women in the South, low-income women and African-American women.  

Women have been arrested while still pregnant, taken straight from the hospital in handcuffs, and sometimes shackled around the waist and at the ankles. Pregnant women have been held under house arrest and incarcerated in jails and prisons. Pregnant women have been held in locked psychiatric wards, as well as in hospitals and in drug treatment programs under 24-hour guard. They have been forced to undergo intimate medical exams and blood transfusions over their religious objections. Women have been forced to submit to cesarean surgery. They have been arrested shortly after giving birth while dressed only in hospital gowns. And, despite claims by some anti-choice activists that women themselves will not be arrested if abortion is re-criminalized, women who have ended their pregnancies and had abortions are already being arrested.  

Read the rest here.

Jamie Lynn Russell: One Pregnant Woman’s Tragic Death Reveals the Human Cost of Devaluing Women

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Written by Farah Diaz-Tello for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

I don’t like war metaphor. I prefer to think about reproductive justice advocacy in terms of healing and love. But when our nonsensical policies on drugs and reproductive health claim the lives of living, breathing people, it feels like a war.

Jamie Lynn Russell was 33 years old when she went to an emergency room in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma in such debilitating pain that she was unable to move. Because her excruciating pain prevented her from lying down for an examination, hospital staff labeled her “noncompliant,” and called the police. The police discovered that she had two pain pills that weren’t hers. Still in pain, she was released by the hospital as “fit to incarcerate,” arrested for drug possession, and taken to jail, where she died two hours later from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.

Two pain pills.

Read the rest here.

Lousiana’s Delhi Charter School Violates Title IX: Tell Them to Stop Targetting Pregnant Students

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Written by Natasha Vianna for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Yesterday morning, I learned about Delhi Charter School’s unethical and illegal school policy. The school has required teen girls to take pregnancy tests at the discretion of school officials. If a girl refused, she would be sent home from school. If her test came back positive, she would be sent home from school. Sound fair to you?

Sign a petition demanding that the school eliminate mandatory pregnancy tests and commit to giving pregnant students the same education, in the same place and at the same time, as all other students.

Not only is this policy unfair, it is illegal! Forcing a girl to take a pregnancy test is illegal. Sending a girl home from school for refusing is illegal. Sending a girl home for being pregnant is illegal. Women should never feel like they can lose their right to an education just for being a woman. This policy is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Being in high school is tough as it is. Imagine being accused of being pregnant and forced to take a pregnancy test. As a former teen parent, I know this is unethical and just so wrong in so many ways. It has been 40 years since Title IX became a law and promised equal opportunities for boys and girls, but Delhi Charter School has demonstrated their lack of respect for our progression.

Read the rest here.

Invisible Prisoners: Why Are So Many Children, Especially Girls, Placed in Solitary Confinement?

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Written by Yasmin Vafa for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

When we hear about solitary confinement, we often imagine it as a form of extreme punishment inflicted on the most vicious and dangerous criminals in prison. The last thing you would expect is for this practice to be inflicted on children.

But it is. All across this country, children are being placed in solitary for a host of different reasons ranging from ‘protection’ to the most minor misbehaviors.  

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This practice is even more disturbing when you consider the distinct pathways of girls into the juvenile justice system. We often talk about the “school-to-prison pipeline” for boys —but for girls, it is a totally different narrative, more readily identified as the “sexual-violence-to prison pipeline.” According to the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention, approximately 600,000 girls are arrested in the U.S. annually. Most of these girls are remanded for non-violent offenses such as truancy, running away, loitering, alcohol and substance use, and violations to prior court orders for non-violent status offenses. Moreover, evidence shows that 73 percent of girls in juvenile detention have previously suffered some form of physical or sexual abuse. This abuse is often the factor that propelled the child into the juvenile justice system, as it is often the abuse that is the root cause of the girls’ running away, becoming truant, substance abuse, etc. 

Read the rest here.

Crime and Obesity: Let’s Get to the Heart of the Problems

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Written by Marianne Møllman for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

There is something deceptively simple about New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s blanket initiatives. Whether it is giving the police unfettered discretion to stop and frisk anyone they think might look like a potential criminal because “it saves lives,” or banning the sale of large-container sodas because, well, that saves lives too, the initiatives promise easy fixes to complex problems.

They are, however, based on a blindness to prejudice that is compelling precisely because it is wrong.

In short, Mayor Bloomberg’s initiatives purport to be color- and class-blind. If the stop-and-frisk program affects mostly men of color, Bloomberg argues, this is purely coincidental. And if most of New York City’s overweight population lives in the poorest boroughs, that is also just by chance. Maybe, this line of argument implies, it is just that men of color and the resource-poor make appallingly bad decisions about their lives and health.

Incidentally, I am not arguing that our definitions of what should be subject to punitive measures and what constitutes a “normal” weight are perfect or even always good. The point I am making is about policy effectiveness. And in that sense, even a cursory look at correctional and obesity statistics in the United States reveals deep-seated disparities which knee-jerk reactions — in particular those that blatantly ignore color and class —cannot fix.

Read the rest here.