Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tennessee lawmakers vote to criminalize miscarriage

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Pictured: Murder victim?

Those of you paying attention to the goings-on in Tennessee lately might be wondering what’s next for a state legislature that already wants to infuse science classrooms with religious fables, ban any mention of homosexuality in schools, and even prevent teachers from talking about “gateway sexual activity” like kissing and holding hands?

Well, if you thought lawmakers would eventually tire of desecrating educational policies and instead focus a bit more on punishing women for having a uterus, you’d be quite correct, as the state House and Senate have passed a couple of bills to criminalize virtually any form of miscarriage:

The Tennessee House last week voted 80-18 to make miscarriage — or the killing of any fertilized egg — murder. Last night, the Tennessee Senate passed by a 28-2 margin a companion version of the bill. The bill specifically includes all embryos “at any state of gestation in utero.” Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Haslam has not indicated if he will sign the bill.

To be clear, this bill goes further than covering, say, a violent attacker harming an expectant mother who then, unfortunately, miscarries. This bill, House Bill 3517 and the Senate’s companion, makes anyone’s actions that presumably cause a miscarriage murder. Opponents of the bill question how law enforcement would actually enforce this law or determine if someone’s action was a direct cause of a miscarriage.

Or, for a TL;DR take on the bill’s merits:

[T]he law is poorly-written, poorly-conceived, and based on other poorly-written bills in other states, and an aggressive prosecutor has room to misuse the law — and the legislature knows it.

Sounds like standard fare from a Republican-controlled legislature.

At this point, Radley Balko points out the seemingly inevitable:

Up next, a bill that would allow legal gun owners to shoot anyone they reasonably suspect to be a sex offender, undocumented immigrant, or abortion doctor.

Jeez, man, don’t give them any ideas. Especially since, in addition to being hauntingly reminiscent of last year’s attempts in South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska to legalize the murder of abortion providers, it honestly sounds exactly like something we could expect from these regressive ideologues.

(via @radleybalko)