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Women's Birthing Rights, Women's Bodies

Republican Bill Would Have Jailed Women for Not Reporting Miscarriages to Police

Divine Purpose sent me a heads up about the antics of a Republican legislator, John Cosgrove, of Virginia, whose bill would have required that Virginia women who miscarried and who weren’t attended by medical professionals report their miscarriages to police within 12 hours, with failure to do so constituting a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by jail time and thousands of dollars in fines.  This is what women would have had to include when reporting their miscarriages to police:

place of occurrence
usual residence of patient  (mother)
full maiden name of patient
medical record number and social security number of patient
Hispanic origin, if any, and race of patient
age of patient
education of patient
sex of fetus
patient married  to father
previous deliveries to patient
single or plural delivery  and order of plural delivery
date of delivery
date of last normal  menses and physician’s estimate of gestation
weight of fetus in grams
month of pregnancy care began (sic)
number of prenatal visits
when fetus died
congenital malformations, if any
events of labor and delivery
medical history for this pregnancy
other history for this pregnancy
obstetric procedures and method of delivery
medical certification  of cause of spontaneous fetal death
signature of attending physician or medical examiner including title, address and date
method of disposal of fetus
signature and address of funeral director or hospital representative
date received by registrar
registrar’s signature
registration area and report numbers.

As Maura, who blogged extensively about this, wrote:

Remember, Virginia defines “fetal death” regardless of gestational age, and requires reporting of deaths of all “products of conception”.  At early gestational age of pregnancy, how are you supposed to get some of this information?  Are you supposed to find a kitchen scale and weigh the “products of conception” so you can get a report in grams? 

Ultimately, Cosgrove withdrew the bill and says it will be rewritten to cover only babies which are “stillborn,” as opposed to all “fetal deaths”.   In part, he withdrew the bill because of the response he received from those who had read blog posts about it.

I think it’s important to keep an eye on these guys, though, as Maura, Daily Kos, and other bloggers have.  Who knows what they will try next?  Thanks, Divine Purpose, for the heads up.




22 thoughts on “Republican Bill Would Have Jailed Women for Not Reporting Miscarriages to Police

  1. I love how it’s “products of conception,” rather than products of gestation. When products that have merely been “conceived” (IOW, fertilized) are flushed out of the womb, we call that menstruation.

    Posted by justicewalks | March 29, 2007, 6:09 pm
  2. Now a female is a doctor? It is my understanding that many miscarriages take place without the knowledge of a pregnancy.

    And if one does not report it, what measures will be utilized to “prove” that she was in fact pregnant? A man ratting her out. Her mother, her father, her roommate, her lover???????? Sounds a little KGBish.

    Will we spend money to comb the sewers to get the evidence. The same money that people in Texas (I think) could not bother to spend to find the body of a dead 19 year old who was murdered by an x-boyfriend?

    Posted by chasingmoksha | March 29, 2007, 6:44 pm
  3. What the heck is up with “Hispanic origin, if any, and race of patient”? Why do they need to know if she was married to the father?

    Note there is no listing there for “result of rape?” or “incest”?



    Posted by womensspace | March 29, 2007, 6:57 pm
  4. I hear the jack boots. I definitely hear them. Oh my God. America terrifies me.

    Posted by Pony | March 29, 2007, 7:08 pm
  5. Heart, I think that the reason why there was the reference to the “Hispanic originm, if any, and race of patient” because of the use of ulcer meds in Latin America to secure abortions.

    Just wanted to add that because that is the same question I had. There are many southern states that are prosecuting Hispanic women for just this, as with Amber Abreu. I think that this is important, and that anytime there is a bill ANYWHERE like this, women/men need to give the same response. TAKE THAT YOU REPUBLICAN JERK! It’s been modified BECAUSE of the response of the people. Nothing can convince me other wise.

    Posted by Divine Purpose | March 29, 2007, 7:16 pm
  6. Also, I take this bill to be both sexist and racist!

    Posted by Divine Purpose | March 29, 2007, 7:17 pm
  7. Definitely both sexist and racist and intolerable! Very true that the response because of bloggers had a huge impact; Cosgrove said so in a sort of sniveling, whiny way, chiding people for being “condescending” and some other things. Like his own bill wasn’t condescending to the seventh level of sexism/racism/xenophobia and you name it!


    Posted by womensspace | March 29, 2007, 7:46 pm
  8. It’s hard to believe, even though I do believe it. You’re saying, DP, that they ask whether this is a Hispanic woman *expressly* to check it out, see if she used ulcer medication?

    To be clear, that list is the list doctors already have to fill out and send in when they treat a woman who has miscarried. If this bill had been passed, women would have had to fill all that out for their own miscarriages and give it to police. They wuold have to identify themselves as Hispanic, I guess, so police can determine whether they can be prosecuted. Jeezus.


    Posted by womensspace | March 29, 2007, 7:48 pm
  9. Yes Heart that is just what I am saying! I have read of a few cases, both through in class assignments, and digging around on my own, of hispanic women being targeted. If they “miscarry” either through natural or induced causes, they are tested, they are investigated. Authorities are not ignorant to the fact that in Latin American countries, women are using this drug to secure abortions. I think they are being targeted. There have been cases in which women have died from improper use, i.e. inserting the pill vaginaly vs taking it orally, etc. and this “investigation” cough::persecution:::cough is often done under the guise of “protecting women from untimely deaths.” Though some, clearly, are just radical anti-women vigilantes.

    The article where I read about women using the med’s wrong and dying as a result, was distributed in class. I wish I had kept the damn thing… but if I hear or find more on it I will bring it back.

    Posted by Divine Purpose | March 29, 2007, 8:03 pm
  10. Pony said “I hear the jack boots. I definitely hear them. Oh my God. America terrifies me”

    Come to the UK Pony! By the time they get across here – we will have ran for the hills!

    Posted by sparklematrix | March 29, 2007, 11:13 pm
  11. If anybody had any doubt that nazis can hold political office in this country, this bill ought to put such doubts to rest. It’s a test– periodically run a wad of racist/sexist BS up the corporate flag-pole and see how many people ‘sieg heil’. It’s exactly the same bureaucratic-efficiency crapola window-dressing that was used to control/exterminate ‘undesirables’ in nazi Germany. I could also just see various technology firms salivating with eagerness to sell data-management systems to the State of Virginia for the proposed ‘dead fetus management and logistics office’ with the same moral vacuity IBM exhibited in WW II when it sold punch-card technology to Germany for use in the concentration camps.

    Happily, the bill has been withdrawn, primarily due to sane, irate Women raising a ruckus on blogs and beyond. I would like to suggest a further action to make sure that this proposed legislation gets the ridicule it so richly deserves: it would be great to see a large number of Women print out a copy of the reporting requirements listed above. They could then fill out a ‘complete report’ on an ‘adult fetus’ that was ‘stillborn’, including a pic of the (male) perp/rapist/batterer/fundamentalist/politician of their choice. The reports could then be mailed to John Cosgrove’s office, as at present, he is the sole spokesperson for the proposed ‘State of Virginia Office of Vaginal Intrusion and Embryo Disposition’.

    Another possibility would be to put up something online where Women could dutifully report [via the ‘Cosgrove Womb-Informer Tip-Sheet’] stillborn adult-zombie-fetuses who have gone on to careers in politics, fundamentalist religious groups, and so on. The site could be called WWYA?– Who Would You Abort?

    After all, one of the fave control-methods of abusers is ridicule. I say it’s time we turned the tables on them with some well-placed sarcasm: out John Cosgrove as a walking, talking stillbirth.

    Posted by akkarri | March 29, 2007, 11:25 pm
  12. Well Sparkle, the reason America terrifies me so much is their dickhead cousins here and in the UK are also hearing jackboots and thinking they should polish their’s up. Right about now.

    Posted by Pony | March 30, 2007, 3:12 am
  13. just a note about the “hispanic origin” question . . .

    in my experience, on many forms where “race” and “ethnicity” are categories, the options for “race” include white, black, native american, asian, etc., whereas the options for “ethnicity” are only hispanic and non-hispanic.

    i have no idea who came up with that, and i’ve certainly never understood it, but i think the “hispanic origin and race” question might just be another way of asking “ethnicity and race.”

    of course, defining “ethnicity” only as identifying who is hispanic or not is a whole other issue, but i thought it was worth mentioning. 🙂

    Posted by ladoctorita | March 30, 2007, 3:16 am
  14. Anyway, what does Hispanic mean? It resembles the name Hispaniola, an island in the Caribbean.

    Is any Spanish speaking ethnic group Hispanic? What about Spaniards from Spain? Do we have European “hispanics”? Or only American, Mexican, Central American, South American and Caribbean hispanics?

    Posted by Branjor | March 30, 2007, 12:05 pm
  15. More weird designations for these ethnic groups are Latina and Latino, also the region known as “Latin America.” Latin is an ancient language spoken by the Romans. Modern day Sapnish is related to this ancient Italian language, as is modern day French and Italian. So it must have come to denote areas of the Americas and American peoples by Spanish (European) imperialism and conquest of these areas/peoples. That leaves their pre-Spanish ethnicities and identities almost invisible.

    Posted by Branjor | March 30, 2007, 12:16 pm
  16. Yes, Italians and the Spanish have a common ancestry. So common that it’s hard to tell us apart. We are both descended from the Romans and both have black blood in us which gives us our dark skin and features, the result of the Moor invasion and their influence on us. Our languages are also very similar as both are rooted in Latin, as mentioned by Branjor. So are French, Portuguese and Romanian. Thus the 5 are called the Romance languages. “Romance” meaning “Roman,” not from being “romantic,” or being conductive to or from lovemaking. 😛

    Italian is the language closest to Latin. However, Italians are not called Latinos. “Latino”refers to those of mixed blood. To separate the “pure” blood lines of the Spaniards and those they conquered. Spaniards, you see, are considered white. And that is what they’re really after when those check-boxes are given to determine one’s ethnicity. To separate the pure bloods from those with “tainted” blood lines. Usually those tainted with black or Indian blood. (Indian, as in Native American).

    Italians also were not considered white in Amerika until fairly recently. Then the white boys waved they’re magic wands and voila! Italians were considered white **wink, wink** but not really. Just get the white boys’ blood up and the racial slurs just roll right off the tongue and the hatred in their eyes is unmistakable.

    So why did the white boys wave their magic white wand for Italians and not the Spanish, even tho we are so similar? That’s easy. Just follow the money and the power. The white boys have a downright baby boner for the Mafia and romanticize it to the hilt. By making Italians “white,” the white boys can get in on the action and co-opt the money and power. Or so they think. But to be Mafioso, one must have pure Italian blood. Not just the white boys, you see, hold their blood lines to be pure and sacred.
    Males from all races and ethnicities are guilty of it. No exceptions.

    Posted by Luckynkl | March 30, 2007, 2:34 pm
  17. A Puerto Rican friend of mine said that she had to wait for days (maybe even longer, I can’t remember) with her miscarried fetus inside her until it naturally aborted because they wouldn’t induce it due to the strict abortion ban there.

    She had wanted the baby, but living with something dead inside you is horrible and dangerous! I don’t know what they do in cases like that if there is toxicity and the women’s lives are in danger. Oh well, god’s will?

    It seems jack boots come in many styles and colors.

    Posted by roamaround | March 31, 2007, 3:21 am
  18. I liked this response from a Virginian friend of mine:

    If it hadn´t failed, a bunch of us here in my area would have done what we were planning to do: File a police report every time we have a period — just in case — and clutter up the system with useless reports until they said “um, this probably isn’t such a good idea…”

    It sure was tempting…you know, bringing in used tampons in sealed Evidence Bags, filing mountains of paperwork, then leaving with “see you next month!”

    Posted by Spicy | March 31, 2007, 10:56 pm
  19. HA!!

    Too funny, Spicy!! 🙂

    Posted by womensspace | March 31, 2007, 11:07 pm
  20. in repsonse to Spicy’s suggestion:

    I liked this response from a Virginian friend of mine:

    If it hadn´t failed, a bunch of us here in my area would have done what we were planning to do: File a police report every time we have a period — just in case — and clutter up the system with useless reports until they said “um, this probably isn’t such a good idea…”

    It sure was tempting…you know, bringing in used tampons in sealed Evidence Bags, filing mountains of paperwork, then leaving with “see you next month!”

    Spicy, I think if I were to live there, I would do that.
    Good Idea!

    Posted by Dina Dunkelman | March 31, 2007, 11:12 pm
  21. Spicy, that is brilliant!

    Well you know, we just want to be all law abiding, just in case…

    Posted by stormy | April 1, 2007, 8:11 am
  22. This blog Democracy for Virgina has not been updated since August of 2005.

    Anyone have any idea what happened to the blogger?

    Posted by pinky | April 2, 2007, 5:00 pm

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