Utah Criminal Miscarriage Law Back in the Spotlight


In 2010, a pregnant teen in Utah was prosecuted over paying a man to beat her until she miscarried.  The case brought about a change in state law that made it illegal for a mother to intentionally induce a miscarriage, a frightening new law because all women who miscarried could potentially be seen as criminals.

Now that case is being reviewed by the state Supreme Court.

Via Fox News:

In court, the attorneys for Harrison and J.M.S. claimed that Utah’s abortion law essentially stated an abortion was a procedure to terminate a pregnancy. The Utah Attorney General’s Office is seeking to have the judges rulings overturned. The justices of the Utah Supreme Court zeroed in on the law as it was written at the time and the teenage girl’s intent.

“It seems to me that one could make the argument that a distinguishing characteristic between an abortion and a killing of an unborn child is that in the case of an abortion, it’s the desire of the woman who is pregnant to terminate the pregnancy,” Justice Jill Parish asked assistant Utah Attorney General Christopher Ballard.

“The distinguishing factor in the way that the legislature has laid out Utah statutory scheme is whether it was a medical procedure to terminate the unborn child,” Ballard replied. “That is the distinguishing factor between abortion and murder.”

Only recently has Utah law changed to explicitly state “medical procedure.” Lawyers for Harrison and J.M.S. argued that the state should not get another shot.

“We can’t go back in and retroactively make the statute tighter than what it was,” Humiston said.

The question in front of the court is whether the teen and her accomplice should be tried for murder for inducing a miscarriage, or whether it should be treated as an abortion.  But the question that should be being asked is why abortion is so difficult to obtain that a girl or woman would be so desperate she would be reduced to paying someone to beat her just so she did not have to have a baby.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Follow Robin Marty on Twitter: @robinmarty

To schedule an interview with Robin Marty please contact Communications Director Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.