The Nation ‘s Michelle Goldberg recently discussed how the anti-abortion movement is increasingly using state and federal feticide laws to arrest and imprison women. “Throughout the past few decades, abortion foes have worked steadily to endow fetuses with rights separate from those of mothers, aiming to undermine the logic of Roe v. Wade.” This agenda is designed to “…’allow a jurist to acknowledge that human beings at any stage of development deserve protection—even protection that would trump a woman’s interest in terminating a pregnancy’.” The practical effect of this aspect of the anti-abortion movement has resulted in women facing serious criminal charges for “…ending their pregnancies, or merely attempting to do so.”
The fear that anti-abortion politicians would use fetal rights law, including a push to recognize fetal pain at earlier and earlier gestational stages, can no longer be dismissed as paranoia. The fact that the anti-abortion movement primarily views women as unwitting victims who are too ignorant to understand that choosing abortion is really murder, has not stopped increasing attempts to use feticide laws to criminalize everything from attempted suicides, suspected attempted suicides, or even “suspicious” miscarriages.
The New York Times recently reported on an alleged epidemic of low-income pregnant women around the country that are abusing prescription drugs. Lynn Paltrow, the founder of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, explains how the New York Times, relying solely on anecdotal evidence, “…suggest[s] that the greatest threat to children is their mothers…” This false narrative adds to the notion that certain kinds of pregnant women, particularly low-income women, cannot be trusted.
Paltrow also discusses the real impact of the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004’’ or ‘‘Laci and Conner’s Law,’’ which was enacted after the tragic murder of Laci Peterson. Laci Peterson was eight months pregnant at the time of her murder in 2002.