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Maura at Democracy for Virginia posted this about a proposed law (Fetal death; report by mother, penalty) pending in the legislature that makes it a misdemeanor if a woman who suffered a miscarriage (at home) does not report the death to the police within 12 hours after the miscarriage. Resulting in up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

It's not enough that conservatives attack abortion, but now they want to go after women who involuntarily loses a child? Many women haven't even told their friends and family that they are pregnant in the first trimester because of the possibility of a miscarriage. But now they have to tell the police? How much more of an invasion of privacy can you get? Moreover, in a genuine time of grief and crisis, and a miscarriage is, is this really going to be the first thought in your mind. "Must report my miscarriage." Give me a break.

Realistically, miscarraiges occur. What is the purpose of this proposed law? Is it to keep track of the women who seem to have an unusual number of miscarriages. That often runs in the family. It would *often* be the same women having miscarriages, through no fault of their own. Sometimes, their bodies just have problems carrying a child to term. My mother had two miscarriages before she had me. My one cousin had countless miscarriages and ultimately had to resort to expensive in vitro (several of which still miscarried) and was in the process of adopting before she finally had a pregnancy last beyond the first trimester (and was on 6 MONTHS bedrest after that!) before she had her first - and only - child. One of my closest friends had a miscarriage in college. Unfortunately, it's not unusual, otherwise, in vitro wouldn't be the money maker that it is. Now you want to punish the woman if she is so much in shock, in so much pain, that she doesn't call the police to answer questions (such as, as Maura details:

--place of occurrence
--usual residence of patient (mother)
--full maiden name of patient
--medical record number and social security number of patient
--Hispanic origin, if any, and race of patient
--age of patient
--education of patient
--sex of fetus
--patient married to father
--previous deliveries to patient
--single or plural delivery and order of plural delivery
--date of delivery
--date of last normal menses and physician's estimate of gestation
--weight of fetus in grams
--month of pregnancy care began
--number of prenatal visits
--when fetus died
--congenital malformations, if any
--events of labor and delivery
--medical history for this pregnancy
--other history for this pregnancy
--obstetric procedures and method of delivery
--medical certification for cause of spontaneous fetal death
--signature of attending physician or medical examiner including title, address and date signed
--method of disposal of fetus
--signature and address of funeral director or hospital representative
--date received by registrar
--registrar's signature
--registration area and report numbers

I would be too emotionally upset to deal with some stranger asking me all these questions. The experience is bad enough, now I'm being questioned about it?? And why is it relevant if the mother is married to the father? The mother's education?? The sex of the child??? (Would they even necessarily know? Miscarriages often occur early in the pregnancy before you could even possibily find out.) What possible relevance do some of those questions have?? None. They are solely to harass a women who has just suffered a miscarraige.

Something else interesting Maura listed - other misdemeanours in Virginia (you know, so you get an idea what type of crime not reporting a miscarriage within 12 hours is similar to). You ready?

--Statutory Rape (a person 18 years or older engaging in consensual intercourse with a child 15 or older not his spouse, child or grandchild
--Arson Burning or destroying a building or structure where the property is valued less than $200
--A bomb threat made by someone younger than 15
--Carrying a concealed weapon while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
--Possession or distribution of fraudulent drivers’ licenses or official identification
--Threatening any public school employee while on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity
--Purchasing or providing alcohol to minors

I am utterly disgusted right now. You are turning a tragedy into a crime. There is something really wrong with that. (Not surprisingly, if the woman miscarries, there is no burden for the father to report toe miscarriage, or penalty for his refusal to do so.)


  • At 5:12 PM, Blogger Matthew said…

    This reminds me of the episode of West Wing where Sam is fascinated by the Texas (?) town that wants to abolish all laws besides the Ten Commandments (paraphrased):

    Leo: They want to make the ten commandments law?
    Sam: Yeah, what do you think about that?
    Leo: Coveting thy neighbor's wife is going to be a problem.
    Sam: Also, if I was arrested for coveting my neighbor's wife, I'd probably bear false witness.

    I mean, how are they going to enforce the reporting requirement? Who is going to report a woman for failing to report a miscarriage? Are they going to mandate a breach in physician-patient confidentiality? I mean, it's so backwards that you have to laugh at them.

    Also, I think it may be an unconstitutional intrusion into their privacy, but that's another whole article.

  • At 3:37 PM, Blogger Matthew said…

    This has me totally amazed. And disgusted. It's a total invasion of privacy, and about a traumatic, sad, personal matter of great delicacy. It's backdoor pro-life legislation, which in itself is completely ass backwards. Ugh.

    Sorry, I'm not saying what I want to very well. This is just a very troubling sign. Who knows what else is to come? This country is depressing me more and more everyday.

  • At 5:53 PM, Blogger Me said…

    Matt and Matthew,
    It would scare me if we were to create a society where we only abided by the ten commendments. Though last time I looked, several of the conservative mantras were not explicitly part of the ten commandements. Can you imagine the jury sentencing a woman who did not report a miscarriage? Disgusting. The intent of the law scares me. And I agree that it is totally an unconstitutional intrusion into privacy. Of course, they'd come back and argue that there *is* no constitutional right to privacy. I just can't imagine taking this traumatic, sad and personal matter and making it public knowledge, a crime. And I'm not even sure if's "backdoor" pro life legislation. That is right in your face pro life legislation. Really, what worries me is that I foresee a situation where they determine that a woman has had too "many" miscarriages - ignoring the fact that some women's bodies are not meant for childbirth and they naturally are more prone to miscarriages. What is there going to be? A one (or two) miscarriage maximum??

  • At 12:22 AM, Blogger Dennis! said…

    Ever since Virginia passed their wonderful "we hate fags soooo much we'll legislate them out of existence in our state," I've personally tried to boycott the state as much as possible, even though, living right across the river in Washington, DC, it's difficult sometimes. If I wasn't such a Virginia-hater before this post, oh man would this have turned me into one. At this point I don't think it's possible for me to hate Richmond more.

  • At 12:13 PM, Blogger Caren said…

    Yeah I read about it in another blog I read & was disgusted. I wanted to blog about it but was so mad I couldn't come up with anything coherent other than "g*ddamned motherf*ckers".

    Ah my loverly state of VA.

    The only thing that we've going for it not passing is Mark Warner, he won't sign it.

  • At 2:20 PM, Blogger Jennifer said…

    Absolutely unreal.

    I have no words.

  • At 9:56 PM, Blogger CC Baxter said…

    I'm flabbergasted. I've read this a few times now and still can't figure out a reason for this law.

    I will pass on that my mother suffered a miscarriage and even though I was really too little to fully understand it at the time, distraught and sad are understatements. Mood around the house is just like the mood after someone has passed away and you're preparing for the funeral.

    It would make more sense to me that the loss at home be required to be reported to a doctor/county coroner because it is (like) a death. The doctor can fill out all the paperwork....

  • At 12:29 AM, Blogger Me said…

    Dennis!: I would imagine being in DC, it would be hard to pretend that Virginia did not exist. I have the same problem with gravity.

    Caren and Jen: That's my real response as well. But Caren, you are probably right about Warner. (The 2008 Democratic nominee?)

    The only thing that we've going for it not passing is Mark Warner, he won't sign it.

    Dern: There IS no reason for the law. My mom's miscarriages were before I was born, so I don't really remember her emotions.


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