Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Legal ambiguity (from Erica)

First: this is our 100th post! Congratulations to us!

Second: I just came across this article outlining a bill that's been introduced in the Utah legislature that increases the restrictions on women's access to abortions to include "reckless" in its descriptions of the "homicidal" behaviour (their language). The general problem (besides the frightening level of erosion of a woman's legal right to medical privacy) is that the language of the proposed law is so ambiguous about what constitutes reckless conduct that it could easily lead to the prosecution of women who miscarry after any number of activities while pregnant- whether or not those activities are proven to be the cause of the miscarriage.

There are a lot of things to be said about the law and abortions, including moral arguments on both sides of the issue. When you look at the law itself, however, it's frightening to see what's being created. The legal arguments in this country that make it okay for a state to interfere with a private medical decision and force a woman not to get an abortion are identical to the legal arguments that make it okay for a state to interfere with that same decision and force a woman to have an abortion. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, and to be fair, I'm not saying that the social climate is such that states are likely to start doing that (I hope). However, the legal framework for them to do so is most assuredly in place. And punitive laws like this one, that attack women in ridiculous ways and don't even glance in the direction of other people causing danger to her fetus (abusive partner? Reckless driver? Chef who undercooks her dinner?), aren't doing anything productive, positive, or good.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - this relates to a post I'm thinking about doing. Cardinal Francis George, the highest ranking Catholic bishop in the US, visited BYU yesterday. His remarks focused on common causes among the LDS and the Catholic church, but he didn't seem aware of ways that LDS doctrine differed from what he was saying.

    For instance, he said that abortion is killing, not healing. First off, LDS doctrine states that abortion is not murder. It's still considered to be wrong in most cases, but not murder. Secondly, abortion is sometimes a form of healing. Sometimes it's the only way to save a pregnant woman's life, and LDS Doctrine states that in such cases it's up to the woman.

    The Cardinal did make some really great points too, which is why I'm going to have to write a post.. maybe tomorrow, when the worst of this week is over.