Have a Miscarriage + Keep It Private = Go To Jail?

Yesterday I dropped a Handmaid’s Tale reference when I mentioned Margaret Atwood’s new remote autographing device, but if anyone can actually bring the novel to life it’s Virginia State Representative John Cosgrove, who has, according to Chez Miscarriage:

introduced a bill to the Virginia legislature that will make it a misdemeanor crime for any woman who’s experienced a miscarriage – at any stage of gestation – to fail to report that miscarriage to local law enforcement personnel within twelve hours.

(For more information, consult this site; many thanks to the lovely and pissed-off Stephany Aulenback, MaudNewton.com’s former Friday blogger, for the link.)

Update: A reader forwards Cosgrove’s response to the outcry:

I am Delegate Cosgrove and I wish to respond to the allegations that have been made by those who have emailed and called my office. The intent of House Bill 1677 is to require the notification of authorities of a delivery of a baby that is dead and the mother has not been attended by a medical professional. This bill was requested by the Chesapeake Police Department in its legislative package due to instances of full term babies who were abandoned shortly after birth. These poor children died horrible deaths and all that the person responsible could be charged with is the improper disposal of a human body.

The requirement for twelve hours comes from the method that a coroner would use to determine if the child had been born alive or dead. After twelve hours, it becomes next to impossible to determine if the child was alive due to decomposition gasses that build up in the body.

My bill in no way intends that a woman who suffers a miscarriage should be charged for not notifying authorities. The bill in no way mentions miscarriages, only deliveries. After discussing the bill again with our legislative services lawyers, I will include language that will define the bill to apply only to those babies that are abandoned as stated above.

I would never inflict this type of emotional torture on a woman who has suffered such a traumatic event as a miscarriage, and I am confident that the General Assembly of Virginia would also not pass such a terrible imposition on a woman.

I hope that you will understand the original intent of this bill. This bill has nothing to do with abortion, contraception and especially miscarriages.

If you were alarmed by this bill or by the websites, I am sorry. I hope that this will explain the concept and intent of this bill.


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