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McVeigh writes: "Hundreds of women have been arrested, convicted, jailed, detained in mental institutions or forced to endure medical procedures as a result of the 'criminalisation of pregnancy' over the last four decades, a new report has found."

Study cites misinterpretation of Roe v Wade in array of cases where women were denied rights based on pregnancy status. (photo: Corbis)
Study cites misinterpretation of Roe v Wade in array of cases where women were denied rights based on pregnancy status. (photo: Corbis)


How Pregnancy Became a Crime

By Karen McVeigh, Guardian UK

15 January 13

 

Study cites misinterpretation of Roe v Wade in array of cases where women were denied rights based on pregnancy status

undreds of women have been arrested, convicted, jailed, detained in mental institutions or forced to endure medical procedures as a result of the "criminalisation of pregnancy" over the last four decades, a new report has found.

In the first study of its kind, to be published on Tuesday, researchers from the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) identified 413 criminal and civil cases across 44 states involving the arrests, detentions and equivalent deprivations of pregnant women's liberty between 1973 and 2005. NAWP said that it is aware of a further 250 cases since 2005. Both figures are likely to be underestimates, it said.

The report, which will appear in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, found that women were denied a wide range of basic human rights, including the right to life, liberty, equal protection and due process of law "based solely on their pregnancy status".

It found a wide range of cases in which pregnant women were arrested and detained not only if they ended a pregnancy or expressed an intention to end a pregnancy, but also after suffering unintentional pregnancy loss.

The cases of detention and forced medical intervention varied widely and included one in which a judge in Ohio kept a woman imprisoned to prevent her having an abortion.

Another involved a woman in Oregon who refused a doctor's recommendation for additional testing for gestational diabetes. She was held in a locked psychiatric ward. Another case involved a court in Washington DC, which ordered a critically ill woman to undergo caesarian section over her objections. Neither she nor the baby survived.

Lynn Paltrow, executive director of NAPW and lead author of the study said: "Our analysis of the legal claims used to justify the arrests found they relied on post-Roe measures such a feticide laws and the same arguments made in support of so-called 'personhood measures' - namely that state actors would be empowered to treat fertilised eggs, embryos and foetuses as completely legally separate from the pregnant women."

She said: "It is not just the criminalisation of pregnant woman, that almost minimises the scope of what we are talking about. They are using civil statues to keep women committed. Right we're ordering the foetus to be committed and you have to come too."

The study found that police, prosecutors and judges relied directly and indirectly on feticide statues that create separate rights for the unborn, claiming to protecting pregnant women and the eggs, embryos and foetuses they carry from third-party violence, on state abortion laws that include language similar to personhood measures and to "misinterpretation of Roe v Wade as holding what personhood measures propose - that foetuses may be treated as separate legal persons".

Paltrow warned that if personhood measures pass, it would create a "Jane Crow system of law in which pregnant women have a second class status."

The study spanned a four decade period beginning in 1973, the year the US supreme court recognised a woman's right to choose to have an abortion in the landmark Roe v Wade case. However, NAPW said the 413 cases represented a "substantial undercount" and that the denial of fundamental rights of pregnant women was ongoing.

Earlier this month, Maria Guerra, of Memphis, Tenessee, was charged with child endangerment and driving under the influence after she was found to be four months pregnant, even though her blood alcohol level was under the legal limit. In Oklahoma, this month, Jamie Lynn Russell, 33, died in agony from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy in jail. Police, who were called to a hospital where Russell sought help for severe abdominal pain, charged her with drug possession after finding two prescription pills that did not belong to her.

Last year, prosecutors in Indiana classified the failed suicide attempt of Chinese-born Bei Bei Shai, as the murder of her foetus. The case is ongoing.

Jeanne Flavin, Fordham University professor of sociology and co-author of the report, said: "The public debate about personhood and other anti-abortion measures tends to focus narrowly on abortion. Our study makes clear that all pregnant woman are threatened by such measures."

The study, believed to be the most systematic account of its kind, relied mostly on public records such as police and court documents, although a small number of cases were taken newspaper accounts. The women were aged between 12 and 43, and two were minors.

It found that low-income women and African American women were more likely to be deprived of their liberty. The largest percentage of cases of the 413 - 56% - came from the southern states, followed by 22% in the midwest.

South Carolina had 93 cases, the highest number in any state, followed by Florida, which had 56 cases.

The study concludes: "As personhood measures continue to be promoted in state legislatures and in Congress, and as we observe the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, this study broadens the conversation form just one abortion to one about health policy and the legal status of pregnant women."

The study concludes: "As personhood measures continue to be promoted in state legislatures and in Congress, and as we observe the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, this study broadens the conversation form just one abortion to one about health policy and the legal status of pregnant women."

 

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+42 # lorenbliss 2013-01-15 08:14
The hideous truth is these sorts of atrocities will continue until patriarchy -- and most especially the Abrahamic (Jewish, Christian, Islamic) doctrines that mandate it -- are all cast onto the dung heap of history.
 
 
-38 # Mannstein 2013-01-15 09:48
Wishful thinking. Our Lord promised "heaven and earth will pass away my words will not pass away".
 
 
+31 # Regina 2013-01-15 09:58
The religions are not the only driver of such abominations. Misogyny is alive, well, and licit in all organizations and societies, notably police and military units, "equality" provisions notwithstanding . And India, notorious for the freedom to rape, is not "Abrahamic."
 
 
-24 # MidwestTom 2013-01-15 08:44
The other extreme of pregnancy problems can be found in this short video:
http://thefreelioness.tumblr.com/post/40104343681/woman-blames-social-services-for-ruining-her-life

This women obviously has no problem with the laws, as long as someone else is paying the bills.
 
 
+21 # frankdavid 2013-01-15 10:09
Quoting MidwestTom:
The other extreme of pregnancy problems can be found in this short video:
http://thefreelioness.tumblr.com/post/40104343681/woman-blames-social-services-for-ruining-her-life

This women obviously has no problem with the laws, as long as someone else is paying the bills.

TAkes a man to make a claim for all women with one women's misfortune. Typical.
 
 
+14 # Alexis Fecteau 2013-01-15 12:49
Actually, it just takes an idiot...
 
 
+3 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-01-15 18:27
And the problem areas in the country are the South, followed by the Midwest.

Probably that has something to do with the reason I left both areas for California...
 
 
+17 # DaveM 2013-01-15 12:05
Funny how someone ceases to be a person, and worthy of consideration as a person, as soon as they are born.
 
 
+8 # cafetomo 2013-01-15 14:09
I see women in the dollar store, screaming at perfectly good children in an unceasing effort to make them as sociopathic, ignorant and confused as they are. Who gets to say whether they have children or not?

Guess what. I have an opinion.

But I know better than to think it any of my goddamn business.

Want to change the world? Go yell at people who abuse their miserable helpless children. Anyone wanting government to make a threesome between science and religion butting heads over who gets to what between bearing and unborn, are only there for the argument.
 
 
+12 # skipb48 2013-01-15 14:20
Hmmm, if the fetus is a person could it not be charged with assault and battery due to kicking the mother? Even if it was too young to know what it was doing as a separate "person" would not the authorities have to stop the assault?
Crazy laws have crazy consequences!
 
 
+7 # angelfish 2013-01-15 16:08
People who don't believe in Abortion shouldn't have one, however, they need to mind their own business, and, unless prepared to take on and RAISE all these "unborn" children, leave women ALONE to make these very PERSONAL decisions for THEMSELVES. The problem would be solved if there were NO Laws on the books concerning a woman's right to self-determinat ion. For Millennia women have been FORCED to have sex they didn't want, bear children they didn't want and raise the product of their assault while men could BLITHELY walk away without consequence. DNA changed all that and put men on the defensive to defend the Indefensible. Then, they had a GREAT idea. Make the woman the criminal. It is Outrageous in every sense of the word! They refuse to care for the children already here, WHY are they doing this? They remind me of the Contrary Indians in the Novel, Little Big Man. They just do EVERYTHING CONTRARY to ease and the norm just because they CAN and, more than that, they WANT to give everyone around them grief and heartburn! Insane! In the end, it doesn't really matter. When we stand before God on Judgment Day, we all must read our OWN page out of the Book. HE is the final arbiter.
 
 
+6 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-01-15 18:25
"In Oklahoma, this month, Jamie Lynn Russell, 33, died in agony from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy in jail. Police, who were called to a hospital where Russell sought help for severe abdominal pain, charged her with drug possession after finding two prescription pills that did not belong to her."

This reminds me of the song "Police State" by Dead Prez.
Someone on RSN left a comment on Naomi Wolf's article quoting Phil Ochs.
So here's Dead Prez.....
the people don' never get justice/
And the womben don' never get respected/
And the problems don' never get solved/
And the jobs don' never pay enough/
So the rent always be late./
Can you relate?/

We living in a police state.

http://youtu.be/8c_UdWo4Zek
 
 
0 # robcarter.vn 2013-01-15 19:34
great stuff jail all women who chatter also
~ Emancipating man at last and it sifts te medical cost to prison budded?

What will that damned Democratic government and Judiciary invent next?

Jail Dogs for chasing bitches or cars.
 
 
0 # JetpackAngel 2013-01-16 13:19
Okay, so first the anti-abortion people were crazy cat ladies, and now pregnant women are puppy mills?
 

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