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Life Arts    H3'ed 4/13/13

Iowa's New Attack in the War on Women

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Pregnant? The GOP wants to take your rights away.
Pregnant? The GOP wants to take your rights away.
(Image by Simon Daniel Photography)
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Pregnant? The GOP wants to take your rights away. by Simon Daniel Photography

Just in case we were still in doubt, the Iowa GOP has now made it very obvious where they stand on the value of women. A living woman has less value than a fertilized egg that may, or may NOT, develop into a viable human being.

Although they admit it has no chance of passing, a group of Iowa lawmakers has introduced a bill that would make it illegal to have an abortion, even when the life of the mother is at stake. Since the bill also redefines murder to "alter the definition of a person in murder cases to 'an individual human being, without regard to age of development, from the moment of conception, when a zygote is formed, until natural death,'" according to the Ames Tribune; it also makes the use of hormonal birth control, which prevents implantation of the fertilized egg, illegal.

That also makes some cancer treatments illegal, since hormonal birth control is also used to control precancerous changes of the cervix. Sorry ladies, if you have these changes, you'll have to risk them developing into full-blown cancer because taking the medication that can stop them is murder. If it does develop into cancer, you may just have to suffer until it kills you. Having a hysterectomy might destroy a fertilized egg, putting both you and your doctor at risk of a murder conviction. Even if you're willing to take that risk, you're not likely to find a doctor who will.

Endometriosis? You'll just have to live with the pain, or have constant surgeries to remove the tissue growing outside the uterus, IF that surgery isn't considered murder as well. After all, it is possible for an egg to implant outside the uterus (an ectopic pregnancy).

Ectopic pregnancy? Sorry, you're going to die, probably in agony. Even though there is absolutely NO chance that an ectopic pregnancy will result in a living child; and, without an abortion, they end in the death of the mother; ending one will be murder.

Do you take prescribed medications or illegal drugs? Pray you don't get pregnant, because they can cause miscarriage. Even worse, stopping them isn't really an option either. Going into withdrawal is likely to cause a miscarriage, and treatment to reduce withdrawal may also cause miscarriage.

Do you have a cat? Cats may carry an illness called toxoplasmosis, which can cause miscarriage. Most commonly caught through cleaning a cat's litter box, eating undercooked meat or gardening can cause it as well. (Guess you'd better develop a liking for well-done meats and stop gardening, too.)

All of this sounds a bit extreme, doesn't it? Are you thinking that it can't happen here in America? Think again. Not only could you be charged with murder if you have a miscarriage, or your baby dies shortly after birth, it's already happening.

In 2011 an Indiana woman, Bei Bei Shua, was charged with murder and attempted foeticide because she tried to commit suicide while pregnant. Although she survived, her daughter died four days after being born. In 2010 an Iowa woman, Christine Taylor, was charged with "attempted fetal homicide" and jailed for two days when she fell down the stairs after an argument with her husband. She was only released because her second-trimester pregnancy was not covered by the Iowa law.

In a friend of the court brief filed in the Shua case by the ACLU, they state:

If a woman can be criminally prosecuted for those acts or omissions (or medical conditions) that pose a threat to her health while pregnant, then the state's control over her life would be limitless: Virtually everything a pregnant woman does and does not do has an impact on the embryo or fetus growing inside her.

The brief continues,

Ms. Shuai did nothing different under the law than, for example, what millions of pregnant women do who smoke throughout their pregnancy, or live with a smoker. Nor is Ms. Shuai any different than those millions of pregnant women who struggle with alcoholism or a drug dependency; who cannot afford regular or even infrequent pre-natal care; who exercise too much or too little or fail to maintain a healthy diet; or who, whether inside or outside the home, continue to work long hours, and to work at physically demanding and even dangerous jobs. If this prosecution is allowed to proceed, then any one of these acts or omissions, which could be detrimental to a woman's health and therefore affect her pregnancy and the health of her child after birth, would be grounds for criminal prosecution.

Bills like this turn women capable of getting pregnant into nothing more than biological incubators, and strips them of any right to choose NOT to get pregnant. It also strips them of the right to make any choice that might result in a miscarriage, EVEN IF IT DOESN'T. (Attempted murder charges don't require that any harm result, only that the person charged take an action that could result in the death of another.)

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Wendy is a writer, blogger, and health activist with interests in health, politics, women's issues, and all the areas where these topics intersect.
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