When Miscarriage Is a Crime

The following post comes to us via Ava Budavari-Glenn, a political communications major and a nonprofit communications minor who is entering her sophomore year at Emerson College. She is a writer whose work focuses mainly on advocacy, and a community organizer who has worked for nonprofit organizations and political campaigns. She is a media and communications intern at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

Imagine losing your baby only to be arrested for it.

That’s exactly what happened to Marshae Jones.

Last June, 27-year-old African-American woman Marshae Jones was indicted by an Alabama grand jury on manslaughter charges when she lost her 5-month-old fetus after being shot. The person who shot Jones, whom the police claimed was acting in self-defense, was not charged in the shooting. Jones, however, was held responsible for being in a fight while pregnant, and faced up to 20 years in prison. Due to a dedicated group of activists and lawyers — and public backlash — charges were dropped and Jones was set free. Unfortunately, Jones’ case is not that unique. Since Roe v. Wade, there have been several cases in which women were arrested for miscarriage or stillbirth.


Criminalizing pregnancy loss casts pregnant people as vessels rather than people.


A fetus is a person by law in Alabama, and therefore can qualify as a victim of homicide. Someone like Jones could be held responsible for the death of a person if her actions are judged to be negligent. And in states like Arkansas, the language that defines “fetal personhood” is extremely vague, so a person could potentially be arrested for waiting even one minute to call the authorities after a pregnancy loss, or for engaging in behaviors that could put a pregnancy at risk. In Arkansas, five women have been arrested for stillbirth or miscarriage: three between 1884 and 1994, one in 2015, and another in 2016.

Many of the laws that have been used to prosecute people for miscarriage and stillbirth are loophole laws, meaning that since the courts cannot technically arrest someone for losing their baby, other laws must be written that can punish the pregnant person in different terms but still have the desired effect. “Concealing a birth” and “concealing a death” are felonies or misdemeanors in several states, and many people arrested after miscarriage or stillbirth are often charged under these laws. Also, many of the laws that have convicted these women are those that give fetuses, and sometimes fertilized eggs, “personhood.” When a fetus is considered a person in the eyes of the law, the rights of the pregnant person are often swept away. Continue reading

Credibility Is the First Casualty: Behind the Pro-Gun Blame-Dodging That Targets Planned Parenthood

In the wake of February’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the debate over gun control reached a fever pitch in the news and on the ground. As CNN reported, in the seven days after the shooting, there were more than a thousand mentions of “gun control” by ABC, CBS, and other major broadcasters. Survivors, student activists, and gun control advocates kept the story front and center by mobilizing across the nation, organizing school walkouts and March For Our Lives events to demand smarter gun control laws and safer classrooms and communities.


To men invested in an old order of male dominance, gun culture and reproductive justice are in direct conflict with each other.


Planned Parenthood was among the many voices calling for an end to gun violence. Just two days after the shooting, Planned Parenthood Action posted a call for reform on their blog, noting that 96 lives are lost to gun violence daily. The post made its position clear: “As a health care provider, Planned Parenthood is committed to the fundamental right of all people to live safe and healthy lives without the fear of violence.”

Numerous Planned Parenthood affiliates were doing the same. On the local front, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona was signal-boosting relevant articles on its Facebook page, including a profile of Emma González, who quickly became one of the most outspoken and recognized survivor activists in Parkland.

For pro-gun conservatives, on the other hand, the Parkland shooting was a call to go on the defensive and double down on their messaging. For a long while, a common tactic has been to deflect criticism by blaming access to abortion for “a culture of death,” as Rep. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) put it, or by peddling the notion that Planned Parenthood takes more lives than gun violence. In March, Matt Walsh dredged up that argument on the conservative website The Daily Wire. He dripped with sarcasm, stating he was “impressed [Planned Parenthood] could find time” to join the debate on gun control, “considering they’re also wrapped up in their war against babies and life itself.” To Walsh, Planned Parenthood is not in the business of promoting safe and healthy lives, because he looks past the lives of women. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • It goes without saying that these are uncertain, uneasy times for many of us living in America right now. We have an unstable, habitually dishonest, temperamentally unfit egomaniac in the Oval Office intent on decimating women’s reproductive rights and the American health care system as we know it. The future of Planned Parenthood and our patients, many of whom have no other health care options, is at grave risk right now — more than ever. (Buzzfeed)

  • Thank you to Lisa Patrick, a writer at The Good Men Project, for making the moral case for keeping Planned Parenthood funded. (The Good Men Project)
  • Women across America to Republican dolt Steve King, who recently and ironically lamented government’s role in regulating the bodies of citizens: “Welcome to our world, hypocrite!” (Raw Story)
  • Headline: “California’s “Trust Women” License Plates to Help Pay for Reproductive Care in Trump Era”. Can we get these in Arizona??? (Rewire)
  • Iowa is taking a stab at “personhood,” which has failed in literally every other state that has attempted to legally designate eggs as “persons.” Were this initiative to pass, it would represent a serious danger to women’s access to birth control as almost every method of contraception could be wrongly construed as “abortifacients.” (Iowa Gazette)
  • Birth control failure rates are lower than ever! (NPR)
  • After Texas suffered a major loss in their battle to defund Planned Parenthood, Rewire ponders: “What’s next?” (Rewire)
  • Sadly, women in our military have a very difficult time getting access to birth control. And, ironically, most of them are seeking birth control as a means to control their menstrual cycles during times of deployment — not to prevent pregnancy. (The Atlantic)
  • With birth control being so effective and so very vital to so many women’s lives, it’s incredibly disheartening to know that the Trump Administration could quickly and easily weaken or even eliminate the provision for full coverage of contraception in the Affordable Care Act. (Think Progress)
  • Congratulations, Colorado, on becoming the third state to allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control!! (Pharmacy Times)
  • Missouri House Republican Mike Moon is infamous for trying to pass as much anti-choice, forced-birth legislation as he can. Moon, who is so pro-life he has no history (that I can locate) of adopting or fostering children in need, is now trying to pass HB 1014, aka the “Never Again Act.” Moon wants to make an abortion museum exhibit that would feature abortion tools throughout the ages and their effects on “abortion victims.” Cluelessly, he also conflates abortion with slavery and the Nazi holocaust. Sure, Mike — making choices about one’s own body is exactly the same as forced enslavement, torture, and brutalization of human beings based on race and is also totally equivalent to burning people alive in ovens due to differing religious practices! (Romper)
  • The new president really is a moron of colossal proportions. He actually gave the quote “Nobody Knew Health Care Could Be So Complicated.” Um, excuse me, Stupid, but literally everyone knew that. Literally everyone. PLEASE WALK AWAY FROM THIS JOB! PLEASE! (NY Mag)
  • Republicans have no idea what the hell they’re doing with regard to the Affordable Care Act, but rest assured, it will leave more people uninsured, it will screw the poor, and people with preexisting conditions (including yours truly — I have an incurable autoimmune disease) will suffer. (WaPo)

Mike Pence’s America

mike-penceSince the election of Donald Trump in November, countless people have reveled in the hope that perhaps some obscure constitutional gambit or criminal indictment would take place preventing him from taking office on January 20.


Mike Pence’s legislative record stands in opposition to his self-proclaimed reverence for life.


The sentiment is understandable to those of us who abhor this man and all that he stands for, but such a scenario would present an awful alternative in the form of Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who would take Trump’s place in the Oval Office as our new president.

While Trump has spoken about his frightening and detestable political views, he has no legislative record to back them up. Former congressman and current Indiana governor, Mike Pence, however, has a lengthy one.

And it is positively horrifying. Continue reading

Abortion: What’s Faith Got to Do with It?

sunsetPlenty, actually. Whenever I hear a politician claiming he or she is a person of faith, I cringe. All too often it’s followed by the words: “I believe in the sanctity of all life, which is why I’m against abortions and will work to defund Planned Parenthood.”

In one sense, faith is a belief in a supreme being or in a particular religion. Not all religions are opposed to abortion, however. A 2013 Pew Research article reveals a wide range of opinions.

Traditional Judaism, for example, approves abortion as “a means of safeguarding the life and well-being of a mother.” Most of the branches openly support a woman’s right to safe and accessible abortions.


Let’s build bridges across our beliefs, instead of building ideological walls between one another.


Though Buddhism has no official position on abortion, many Buddhists hold the belief that human life begins at conception and that, therefore, abortion is morally wrong. However, in Japan, with a large Buddhist population, abortions are common.

Traditional Hinduism condemns abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk. It follows the general value system “that the correct course of action in any given situation is the one that causes the least harm to those involved.”

Although Islamic scholars disagree over exactly when life begins or when abortion is acceptable, most view terminating a pregnancy after four months — “the point at which, in Islam, a fetus is thought to become a living soul” — as not permissible. Many also believe that, prior to four months, abortions should only be permitted in cases of rape or when the mother’s life is in danger. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • orange-kool-aid-man-205As all of us know by now, the moronic stooges of the incoming administration pose a serious threat to our reproductive rights. Trump’s pick for HHS secretary, Tom Price, has twice co-sponsored federal legislation that would define fertilized human eggs as legal persons. Vice President-elect Pence co-sponsored these legislative attempts. Paul Ryan has supported such legislation as well! Is it realistic that the push to legally recognize an egg as a “person” could succeed? Could stem cell research lose federal funding? Could Price make it easy for insurance companies to stop covering birth control? Yes to all of the above. (Scientific American)
  • There has been a lot of chatter about “faithless electors” refusing to grant their states’ electoral votes to Donald Trump next week. Personally speaking, I’m keeping my expectations low and preparing for the orange version of the Kool-Aid man to be in office come January 20, 2017. (Time)
  • Did you know that the fear-mongering weasels in Texas drafted a cockamamie booklet full of idiotic, disproven lies called “A Woman’s Right To Know” that is required to be given to women seeking abortions? Of the many blatant falsehoods cited in the book, they try to scare women into thinking having an abortion increases one’s risk of breast cancer. Fun fact: it doesn’t. (Huffington Post)
  • Republican legislators in Ohio, completely IGNORING the fact that federal courts have previously deemed such laws unconstitutional, advanced a law to outlaw abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Which is before most women even show signs of being pregnant. Infamously anti-choice Gov. John Kasich vetoed this bill and instead passed a 20-week ban based on the notion that this is when a fetus can feel “pain.” (NBC News)
  • Notably, the American Medical Association concluded more than a decade ago that fetal perception of pain is “unlikely before the third trimester.” They concluded that the capacity for pain probably does not even exist before 29 or 30 weeks. (Fact Check)
  • Various Arizona artists are planning a “Nasty Women” art exhibit in downtown Phoenix January 14 to 20, and they’re donating the proceeds to Planned Parenthood Arizona! (Phoenix New Times)
  • Our Knight in Shining Brown Armor, Barack Obama, just made it super hard for individual states to defund Planned Parenthood! (NY Times)
  • Donald Trump doesn’t have time to be bothered with daily intelligence briefings, but he does have time to meet with rappers. #Priorities (Rolling Stone)
  • 30 million people will lose their insurance if Obamacare is repealed. Thirty million. (NBC News)
  • Maybe this scathing Trump op-ed in Teen Vogue will make you optimistic about the next generation. (Teen Vogue)
  • Ya know what I don’t wanna see when I walk into a public restroom at a restaurant, bar, hospital, hotel, or school? Anti-abortion graffiti propaganda written all over the damn wall. Well, Oklahoma passed an atrociously asinine law requiring anti-abortion rhetoric to be posted on bathroom walls in public restrooms. And business owners would have to pay the costs for this nonsense! The state claims it wants to achieve an “abortion-free society.” Wow. That sounds amazing. Know what will help get us there? Widespread access to affordable birth control and comprehensive sex education in all schools. Oklahoma notoriously does not support either of those initiatives, though. (NY Mag)
  • Speaking of Oklahoma, they lost a battle in the TRAP war. (Slate)
  • Roe v. Wade will be fine (according to this optimistic writer, who is banking on the longevity of the very old liberal members of SCOTUS). (Slate)
  • In my last rundown I shared the news of Texas trying to force the burial of fetal remains (only the ones resultant from abortion, not miscarriage — cause apparently those are less sacred and valued to legislators). Well that’s canceled. For now. (Texas Tribune)
  • Guess what? Abortion does not harm women’s mental health. The medical field has spoken. Definitively. (NY Times)

Book Club: Pro – Reclaiming Abortion Rights

Pro PollittPro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt, prize-winning author, poet, essayist, and columnist for The Nation, is a book for people who are in the “muddled middle” of the abortion debate. YOU are a member of this group — more than half of Americans — if you do not want to ban abortion, exactly, but don’t want it to be widely available, either.

Pollitt argues that “muddlers” are clinging to an illogical and ultimately untenable position and need to sit down and examine their reasoning carefully. She does so in a witty, engaging manner, taking us through 218 pages in the following six chapters:

RECLAIMING ABORTION. Pollitt states her case:

“Abortion. We need to talk about it. I know, sometimes it seems as if we talk of little else, so perhaps I should say we need to talk about it differently. Not as something we all agree is a bad thing about which we shake our heads sadly and then debate its precise degree of badness, preening ourselves on our judiciousness and moral seriousness as we argue about this or that restriction on this or that kind of woman. We need to talk about ending a pregnancy as a common, even normal, event in the reproductive lives of women … We need to see abortion as an urgent practical decision that is just as moral as the decision to have a child — indeed, sometimes more moral.”

WHAT DO AMERICANS THINK ABOUT ABORTION? Polls are one thing; voting, another. Voters in even the most conservative states reject extreme abortion restrictions, despite polls predicting passage. Continue reading