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"Attempted feticide?"

Huh? Or rather:


NOTE Via Ian Welsh.

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okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

There isn't enough detail here to know. I could see if her unborn child was already well past the point of viability, say she is only 2 weeks from her due date. What would it be at that point, attempted murder? Nothing?

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

A woman is reduced to falling down the fucking stairs to end her pregnancy and you wonder if it's a crime against the FETUS?!

Wow, just WOW.

May I remind you that, except in the fevered dreams of the Christian Patriarchy movement, feticide is not a nationally recognized crime? How can she be charged with wanting to terminate her pregnancy, which, even in the third trimester, IS LEGAL in America?!

I agree we don't have enough information, but if she was that desperate and is compos mentis, I'd guess two things: 1) she did not have safe alternatives available to her, and 2) domestic abuse.

In all cases, our first thought should go towards the fully living and viable pregnant woman, not the questionable potential life inside her. The woman has the absolute right to decide whether or not to bear her baby. It is none of anyone's fucking business what she decides, except hers and possibly the father's (if the pregnancy was the result of consensual sex between adults, which often is not the case). And it certainly is NOT A CRIME to do so. I hope she has a real lawyer that will make mincemeat of this ridiculous charge.

Unbelievable that I would even have to say this today, in the week of the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Modern feminism = EPIC FAIL.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

No matter how you slice it. Sorry, I prefer to wait for facts before I jump to conclusions about who is a victim and who isn't and whether there is a victim at all.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

So wondering if the non-crime of feticide was applicable because of the age of the fetus is not speculation, but wondering why the woman would resort to throwing herself down the stairs to end her pregnancy, is?

Unconvincing argument, to say the least.

I don't believe it's speculation you have a problem with, it's where my speculation led me that you think is verboten.

Concern for a woman who threw herself down the stairs to end her pregnancy should not be verboten. Sadly lacking in all the hand-wringing over "unborn rights" is handwringing over what the woman wants and needs.

Like it or not, it's none of your business how old the baby was. "Feticide" is a non-existent crime that some fundies in Iowa no doubt rammed through the state legislature. There is no legal basis for this charge.

That is the point of this outrageous story.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

without being accused of being anti-feminist?

First, the initial speculation was the post itself. Second, I do NOT have a problem with "where the speculation led", you can't possibly know what I was thinking or "what problem I had", because I never said what I was thinking or "what problem I had". Third, I never said anything was "verboeten", all I said was there is possibly more here than we know (and that slices both ways, as I said). Forth, I don't disagree that concern for a woman who throws herself down stairs to terminate her pregnancy (and I won't be overly confrontational and describe it alternatively, since neither of us know the facts here), is warranted. Fifth, I'm not "hand-wringing" anything, or even either thing. Sixth, if something is "rammed through the legislature" then it actually is a crime. Seven, the concept of "fetal homicide" was initially developed as a reaction to violence against pregnant women. It's certainly a problematic concept and I don't deny that.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I don't recall using those words to describe anyone who is not a movement anti-feminist, ever.

But you did, indeed, speculate as to how far along she was, and you showed no concern whatsoever for the woman who chose such a desperate path. Rewriting your words does not make your argument more powerful.

I'm glad you have problems with the "feticide" laws. Here is what the ACLU says about them. The article is from when they were first being proposed, in 1997, and only a couple of states had adopted them. I find contemporaneous accounts to be the most accurate when describing how things came to be.

I. Fetal Protection Statutes
In the past two years, a number of states have considered or enacted legislation designed to protect fetuses and punish individuals who injure them or cause their death. The ACLU recognizes that a woman may suffer a serious physical and emotional injury if her pregnancy is ended by an assault, a drunk driving accident, or other criminal or negligent acts. But we have serious reservations about legislation designed to protect fetuses, because it can endanger women's rights by reinforcing claims of "fetal rights" in the law.

Anti-choice organizations have long promoted fetal protection legislation as one prong of their campaign to eliminate the right to choose. It is no accident that anti-choice groups like Americans United for Life have drafted and circulated such legislation all over the country. Passage of fetal protection laws gives anti-choice forces a propaganda coup and a launching pad for arguments to restrict abortion. In a 1984 presidential election debate, Ronald Reagan cited a California "feticide" law as support for regarding abortion as murder, asking, "Isn't it strange that that same woman could have taken the life of her unborn child and it was abortion, not murder, but if somebody else does it, that's murder?"

The ACLU fully supports a woman's right to obtain redress under civil law for an injury to her fetus, and we support society's right to punish criminal conduct. But we urge legislators and advocates of choice to take a careful look at bills designed to protect fetuses. They must be alert to the pitfalls in such bills and refrain from supporting statutes that endanger civil liberties.


B. Fetal Protection Legislation Can Infringe on the Right to Abortion

To conform with the constitutional right to choose established in Roe v. Wade, fetal protection legislation must exempt abortion from punishment. The exemption should explicitly cover: 1) abortions performed by health care workers with the consent of the woman or in medical emergencies; and 2) self-abortions.

An exemption specifying "legal abortions" is not adequate, because a narrow interpretation of what constitutes a "legal" abortion could restrict the performance of abortions to physicians only, and put mid-level health care practitioners, or women who self-abort, in jeopardy of being prosecuted for murder. Prosecutions for self-abortion occur even in the absence of fetal protection laws and provide cruel examples of what might result from such legislation. In the past three years alone, women in Florida, Tennessee, and Illinois faced criminal charges after desperate attempts at aborting themselves. In State v. Ashley, Florida authorities are pursuing a manslaughter charge against a 19-year-old single mother who shot herself in the stomach after learning she could not obtain Medicaid funds for an abortion.

Fetal protection legislation lacking an adequate exemption for abortion could make all abortions in a state illegal if Roe v. Wade were later overturned or undermined. Even when fetal protection statutes do have such exemptions, zealous anti-choice prosecutors may try to intimidate abortion providers by threatening to use the statutes as grounds to indict them for murder if there are any deviations from strict abortion laws or regulations.

According to the ACLU, self-abortion cannot be considered a criminal act and still be in accordance with existing federal law. Therefore, the law in Iowa does contradict Roe v. Wade and it should be overturned by the Supreme Court, as should all of these laws that are written in such a way as to protect the fetus at the expense of the child.

The way things are going in this country, I think we're headed for the coathanger days again. It's a shame, but considering how Stupak and Nelson were able to get through the Democratic Senate and Democratic House, and seeing how the "progressive" defenders of women barely put up a whimper against it, I think we're pretty much doomed unless we get our acts together.

Feet in the street, that's the ticket.

I ain't holding my breath. No one gives a shit, sadly. No one.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Well their historic stance is indeed interesting.

The ACLU fully supports a woman's right to obtain redress under civil law for an injury to her fetus, and we support society's right to punish criminal conduct.

So if you have your fetus beaten out of you, they support your "right to obtain redres under civil law", which is nice. Plus they "support society's right to punish criminal conduct", which is big of them! Don't get me wrong, I have no problem being a card-carrying member of the ACLU (though I am not right now, but these are pretty lame positions.

I agree this is all slippery slope, but do you honestly believe there is no basis for a slope whatsoever? If that is your belief it is specifically NOT consistent with the reasoning in Roe vs. Wade, which ascribed conflicting rights based on the viability of fetuses.

Regarding this:

"But you did, indeed, speculate as to how far along she was, and you showed no concern whatsoever for the woman who chose such a desperate path. Rewriting your words does not make your argument more powerful."

No, rewording doesn't make my argument more powerful, but the facts sure do. That is if you believe the newspaper, my speculation was "right" regarding the fact that she was charged because she was in her third trimester (that's all the law apparently allows), and her husband (once again, if you believe the newspaper) lives in Maryland, rather than Iowa, so I still can't speculate why she would chose such a desperate and self-destructive path, but I do hope to sympathize.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

Regardless of the circumstances:

1. "Unborn child" assumes that fetuses are actual people. Even then, neither you nor I are required to save children's lives by organ donation, for example.
2. "Only" two weeks away? Having a child is not just giving birth. It changes your entire life, even if you give the baby away for adoption.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

in some people, but a 3rd trimester medical/surgical abortion is rigorously defended by them.

M is correct. if a woman wants to throw herself down a flight of stairs to induce termination of a pregnancy, it's her choice. if a man wants to cut off the tip of his penis, it's his choice. it has nothing to do with anyone else. like it or not, this is the truth about termination. sometimes, it ain't pretty. let's not fall into the "abortion is icky" meme just because we wouldn't personally choose this method. it's not your body, it's hers. and i agree with the notion that any woman who does this likely 1) doesn't have access to safe choices and 2) is being abused domestically.

the nurse is the person we should be talking about. what gives him/her the right to divulge private medical information to the cops? a doctor friend of mine, commenting on this story, brought this point up first to me. surely patients deserve their rights, no matter what the beliefs of the provider. oh, wait, don't remind me. that thinking is outmoded, and moralist-providers everywhere can dispense care or not, depending on how they judge patients.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

If you believe the newspaper that is:

Police summoned to emergency room after incident.

Shortly after receiving medical treatment at the hospital Wednesday, a Burlington woman was arrested on allegations she tried to abort her pregnancy because she was mad at her husband.

Christine May Taylor, 22, is charged with attempted feticide, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

According to Iowa law, feticide is when a person "attempts to intentionally terminate a human pregnancy, with the knowledge and voluntary consent of the pregnant person, after the end of the second trimester of the pregnancy where death of the fetus does not result."

Burlington Police officers were summoned to Great River Medical Center late Tuesday night after Taylor reportedly told a nurse she intentionally fell down the stairs of her home because she wanted to get rid of her unborn child. She also allegedly told a doctor she did not want her baby.

It is unclear how far along she is in her pregnancy.

Authorities said Taylor and her husband, who lives in Maryland, have not been getting along. The husband allegedly told his wife over the phone he did not love her anymore and the only reason he is with her is because of their children.

After hanging up the phone Tuesday, Taylor reportedly told police she purposely fell down the stairs to get rid of the baby because she did not want to have any more children with her husband.

Information on how many children the couple have was not available.

For what it's worth, I have an awful lot of problems with this law as it is described.

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Rockabye
(Season 7, Episode 9: Original Air Date—22 November 2005)

Plot summary:

After sixteen-year-old Lauren Westley loses her unborn child due to a severe abdominal beating, her father's insistence that Lauren was raped leads detectives to the baby's father, but it isn't long before the detectives realise that Lauren was an active party in her own beating, and the two teens had found it necessary to take the steps they did because the abortion clinic kept putting off Lauren's request for an appointment. Novak faces a tough opponent in her own office when she and Branch disagree over the appropriate action to be taken against Wayne Mortens, the young girl's boyfriend. This episode is [a] 'ripped from the headlines' episode. The original case occurred in Michigan. Since there was no statute that specifically covered this incident, the teens were convicted on lesser charges.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

This one was used to uphold the Texas "feticide" law, but yikes! in this case it was NOT "feticide", it was called homicide, not feticide and the perpetrator received life in prison, and double yikes!! in this case the perpetrator was stomping on his girlfriend to induce her miscarriage, but triple yikes!!!, she gave sworn statements that she was a willing accomplice to get him off, but quadruple yikes!!! it was believed it was a classic case of a battered woman protecting her abuser! Double special extra yikes!, the law defines it as homicide anytime a fetus is "killed" regardless of the stage of the pregnancy!

The case involves Gerardo Flores, who was convicted of two counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison for repeatedly stepping on the abdomen of his 16-year-old girlfriend in 2004 to induce a miscarriage. According to the AP/Chronicle, the case also is notable because the girl involved in the case, Erica Basoria, gave sworn statements that she was a willing accomplice (Vertuno, AP/Houston Chronicle, 2/13). However, prosecutors believe that Basoria's defense might have been a "classic case of a battered woman protecting her abuser," the Austin American-Statesman reports (Vertuno, AP/Houston Chronicle, 2/13). Basoria cannot be charged for terminating her own pregnancy under the law, which Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed in June 2003. The law defines a fetus as an individual "at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth" (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 6/9/05).

The court rejected Flores' claim that the law is improperly based on religious opposition to abortion. Flores' appeal also argued that the law violated his equal protection rights because he could be prosecuted and Basoria could not even though both took steps to terminate the pregnancy. (AP/Houston Chronicle, 2/13). The opinion noted that a jury had rejected that assertion and it couldn't be raised on appeal. Presiding Judge Sharon Keller in the opinion wrote, "Only if the acts were consensual could (Flores) argue that the statute treated him and Basoria unequally" (Lindell, Austin American-Statesman, 2/14). The opinion also noted that since Flores raised the claim only in a pretrial hearing and not during trial, he could not raise it on appeal (AP/Houston Chronicle, 2/13). Judge Cathy Cochran, in a concurring opinion, said that while she agreed with the opinion, Flores should have been allowed to raise that issue on appeal (Vertuno, AP/Houston Chronicle, 2/13).

One would note that without either "feticide" or "fetal homicide" laws, Flores could have been only convicted of assault on his girlfriend, and if it was actually believed by a jury that she was a willing participant (rather than a victim of domestic violence as she almost certainly was), then this wasn't a crime at all.


madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

you can have laws that protect fetuses without making abortion a crime. The person in question did not try to terminate her own pregnancy, she was brutally attacked by her partner.

thebewilderness's picture
Submitted by thebewilderness on

In those days, and the coming days, any intentional or spontaneous abortion was charged as infanticide and the penalty was death.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on


Any person who intentionally terminates a human pregnancy, with the knowledge and voluntary consent of the pregnant person, after the end of the second trimester of the pregnancy where death of the fetus results commits feticide. Feticide is a class "C" felony.
Any person who attempts to intentionally terminate a human pregnancy, with the knowledge and voluntary consent of the pregnant person, after the end of the second trimester of the pregnancy where death of the fetus does not result commits attempted feticide. Attempted feticide is a class "D" felony.
This section shall not apply to the termination of a human pregnancy performed by a physician licensed in this state to practice medicine or surgery when in the best clinical judgment of the physician the termination is performed to preserve the life or health of the pregnant person or of the fetus and every reasonable medical effort not inconsistent with preserving the life of the pregnant person is made to preserve the life of a viable fetus.
Any person who terminates a human pregnancy, with the knowledge and voluntary consent of the pregnant person, who is not a person licensed to practice medicine and surgery under the provisions of chapter 148, or an osteopathic physician and surgeon licensed to practice osteopathic medicine and surgery under the provisions of chapter 150A, commits a class "C" felony.

I love how all these statutes talk about "pregnant persons", as if women weren't uniquely affected by them.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

punishable by no more than 25 years in prison as per below.

1 1 Section 1. Section 902.12, Code 1997, is amended by adding
1 2 the following new subsection:
1 3 NEW SUBSECTION. 1A. Attempted murder in violation of
1 4 section 707.11.
1 6 This bill adds attempted murder to the list of offenses for
1 7 which a person, if convicted, must serve 100 percent of the
1 8 sentence and is only eligible for credit for good behavior of
1 9 up to 15 percent of the term. Attempted murder is a class "B"
1 10 felony. The sentence for class "B" felonies is confinement
1 11 for no more than 25 years. Adding attempted murder to the
1 12 list of offenses in Code section 902.12 means that a person
1 13 sentenced to 25 years for the offense will serve at least
1 14 21.25 years of the term imposed.
1 15 LSB 2193XS 77
1 16 lh/jw/5

Many states (35?) would/could prosecute* this incident** as attempted homicide.

Update! Here's a better link.

*Yeah, yeah, wikipedia.....

**Neutral enough?

Submitted by hipparchia on

the anti-abortionists have been pushing fetal homicide laws for ages.

The abortion regime brought about by the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade did not happen overnight; it took over a decade for abortion to become legal at the national level; the road to Roe was composed of multiple incremental steps.

It is for this reason that the history of Roe should serve as encouragement to and a catalyst for pro-life advocates. At the time, there was no consensus behind the court’s decision in Roe v. Wade; in contrast, the push to protect the unborn has the weight of public opinion behind it.

Once feticide has been outlawed across the United States, the pro-life movement can turn its attention to the next step.

Every small victory which endows unborn children with dignity, consideration, or protection is a step towards equal rights for the unborn, and the reversal of a court ruling which has condemned millions to death before they could experience the miracle of birth.

not to mention the push to criminalize practically everything a woman does that might, just might, harm her present fetus. thank goodness it's only a bad idea, and not yet outright illegal, to not take proper care of yourself if you're 'pre-pregnant'.