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Creek Running North
January 07, 2005
Political tactic du jour
I used to live in Virginia, as long-time readers may remember. In the 1980s, sexual cohabitation without benefit of marriage was illegal in the Old Dominion. However, the state's caselaw basically said that a woman could not press rape charges against a live-in male partner. This led Elissa and me to realize that the only way we could legally have sex in Virginia is if she didn't want to.
Things have only gotten worse there since then. Via Atrios: a proposed law in Virginia reads, in part,When a fetal death occurs without medical attendance, it shall be the woman's responsibility to report the death to the law-enforcement agency in the jurisdiction of which the delivery occurs within 12 hours after the delivery. A violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
A Class A misdemeanor carries possible penalties of a year in jail and $2500 fine.
There's been a bit of a furor over John Cosgrove's proposed law, and lots of good posts all over the net detailing the not only the ethical problems with this massive, immoral invasion of privacy, but also the logistical problems with making this apply to any cessation of pregnancy. The vast majority of fertilized ova not reaching term are sloughed off in the uterine lining as part of menses.
Therefore this method of complying with the law in advance suggested by a poster to Daily Kos has my wholehearted support. It's the right thing to do.
"Clearly the women of Virginia... need to be sending Delegate Cosgrove their used tampons and napkins. After all, they wouldn't want to break the law. I'm guessing we could get women from all over the country to do this with a nice little note explaining basic fucking biology and suggesting that he determine the gender of the fetus."
Posted by Chris Clarke at January 7, 2005 03:58 PM
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You might want to add the bit about the existing law in Virginia that defines fetal death as referring to the death of "products of conception regardless of duration of pregnancy" -- some people have been arguing (before they learned this) that "fetal" refers to late-term fetuses only. Wrong.
That said, it would still be horrifically cruel to force a woman grieving the loss of a late-term fetus to report to the police if she wants to avoid imprisonment.
I don't know what that man was thinking. One way, he's a moron. Another, he's a cruel, arrogant bastard. Either way, he has no business making any decisions about women's lives.Posted by: Rana at January 7, 2005 04:28 PM
You might want to add the bit about the existing law in Virginia that defines fetal death as referring to the death of "products of conception regardless of duration of pregnancy"
I have an image of warehouses full of placentas on life support!Posted by: Chris Clarke at January 7, 2005 04:35 PM
Bwah! (Thanks for making me laugh about something so awful!)Posted by: Rana at January 7, 2005 04:40 PM
According to the Dean For Virginia blog, Cosgrove has backed down, claiming that he only wanted the report to be directed at stillborn children. Of course, that's probably utter bunk, since if that's what you wanted, it's easy enough to write.
I think he was trying to force women to report abortions, myself, and got hammered over the miscarriage issue.
He's also whining that many of the emails he got were nasty and disrespectful. I'm afraid I don't have much sympathy for that, since I've gotten plenty of nasty comments at my blog from people who don't like me, and I've got no power at all. To the contrary, I think that a really forceful response to crap like this will pull the jerks up short.Posted by: paperwight at January 8, 2005 11:53 AM
Abortions in Virginia are already reported, but the woman's privacy is protected. It's done with a file number instead of a name, and asks for specific information about the type of procedure.
However, right now under the present law, if a woman has a miscarriage under medical supervision (for example, if she goes to the ER when she begins to bleed), the doctor is obliged to file, within 24 hours, information including her name, marital status, the outcome of previous pregnancies, the weight and sex of the miscarried fetus, the mother's education and much much more. This is data that is being collected today by medical professionals. Cosgrove's law only took the step of requiring women who miscarry without medical oversight to file the information themselves.
I hope that this motivates someone in the VA assembly to do something about it. Only 7 states in the US collect this kind of data on fetal mortality.Posted by: Vicki at January 8, 2005 12:10 PM
Liber whiners! If a state can't monitor the condition of its breeding stock, how in the world will it ever engineer the master race?Posted by: Dave at January 9, 2005 01:13 PM
(Wow, the addition of that typo *really* makes me look like a crazed moron!)Posted by: Dave at January 9, 2005 01:15 PM