Anti-abortion laws could have ‘side effects’ for women who miscarry

Hundreds rally in downtown SLO in support of abortion rights

Women’s March SLO group hosted a rally Tuesday in San Luis Obispo, California, to advocate for abortion rights. The rally responded to states passing restrictive abortion bills, including Alabama and Missouri.
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Women’s March SLO group hosted a rally Tuesday in San Luis Obispo, California, to advocate for abortion rights. The rally responded to states passing restrictive abortion bills, including Alabama and Missouri.

I happen to be a pro-life/pro-choice Catholic. Pro-Life because I cherish the new life in utero, and pro-choice because I cherish the lives of girls and women ex utero.

Although both my husband and I chose not to have an abortion some 60 years ago, and love having our eldest daughter and her family come to visit, I am also a realist.

It has long been my mantra that one ought to just pull up one’s shorts, face reality and deal with it because if one doesn’t reality will rise up and bite one where one would rather not be bitten. And the fact that women will have abortions is one of those realities.

With that being said, and the understanding that abortion is very seldom, if ever, an easy choice, women will have abortions. They have been having abortions for millennia and will, no doubt, continue to do so, regardless of what the government decrees.

People are rightly upset over the new anti-abortion laws because it is a return to a time when women either induced their own abortions or went to an illegal abortionist, often with deadly results due to infections or bleeding to death. To indulge in an exaggerated understatement, this was not a good scene. People are rightly angry that some fundamentalist Christians are imposing their religious beliefs on others who do not share their beliefs.

But there is a side effect of the news laws; women who miscarry could be subjected to scrutiny by authorities.

The online news site Vox reports that under the Georgia law, a woman who miscarries could be “pulled into a criminal investigation of a doctor or other provider.”

In Alabama, Code 13A-13-7 treats miscarriages the same as abortions:

“Any person who willfully administers to any pregnant woman any drug or substance or uses or employs any instrument or other means to induce an abortion, miscarriage or premature delivery or aids, abets or prescribes for the same, unless the same is necessary to preserve her life or health and done for that purpose, shall on conviction be fined not less than $100.00 nor more than $1,000.00 and may also be imprisoned in the county jail or sentenced to hard labor for the county for not more than 12 months.”

The first words of this, “Any person who…” can be construed by a prosecutor on an anti-abortion mission to include women who have had miscarriages.

This has two very significant side effects.

If a woman realizes she is pregnant, she may very well fear getting the pre-natal care she needs because by doing so she would be on record as being pregnant.

If she has a miscarriage and is on record as being pregnant, she may be suspected of deliberately ending the pregnancy herself.

This is particularly poignant if the pregnancy was wanted. And how, in the name of all that is holy, does she prove she did nothing to cause the miscarriage? How does one prove that one did not do something? Who makes that decision? Some misogynistic, old white-haired fundamentalist Christian man from Alabama? This is totally outrageous.

Would it not be more rational to appoint a commission comprised of faith leaders, medical doctors, mental health professionals, economists and young women to plan and pay for support services that would help women not to have to chose an abortion in the first place?

These services would include counseling, medical support, education and economic support if needed, emotional support and long-range planning because the new life doesn’t end with birth. Ensuring women need not have an abortion is truly pro-life.

And a final question: Why is it a crime to end a life before birth but OK to send the saved children some 18 years later off to war to be killed for the personal and political gratification of people in power?

Cambria resident Shirley Bianchi is a former San Luis Obispo County supervisor. She writes an occasional opinion column for The Tribune.

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