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Vol. 74/No. 11      March 22, 2010

Utah bill would make intentional
miscarriage ‘criminal homicide’
In a new move to brand abortion as “murder,” the Utah state legislature adopted a bill allowing women to be prosecuted for “criminal homicide” if they intentionally induce a miscarriage. The penalty is up to life in prison.

The bill defines legal abortion as a procedure performed by a doctor or under a doctor’s care. But if a woman terminates her pregnancy on her own, that is homicide.

The measure passed by 59-12 in the House and 24-4 in the Senate. But the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Carl Wimmer, a former cop, decided to withdraw it and revise it.

A vague passage in the original bill allowed criminal homicide charges for “reckless” behavior on the part of a woman that results in the death of the fetus. It was not spelled out if this included driving habits, or consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs.

Wimmer says he is removing the “reckless” clause but will retain the language making it a homicide if a woman’s “intentional” actions result in the death of a fetus.

In Nebraska hearings took place February 25 on a “fetal pain” bill that would outlaw most abortions after 20 weeks. “It’s at that point, Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood says, that a fetus begins to sense pain,” the Omaha World-Herald reported. The only exception would be to save the life of the woman. The Supreme Court ruling allows abortion up until the fetus reaches “viability,” usually considered to be 24 weeks.

The measure is another salvo against doctors like LeRoy Carhart, who performs late-term abortions in Nebraska and was an associate of Dr. George Tiller, who provided these abortions in Kansas until his murder by an ultrarightist last May.  
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