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State 'Feticide' Laws Come 'Dangerously Close to Criminalizing Pregnancy,' Columnist Writes

State 'Feticide' Laws Come 'Dangerously Close to Criminalizing Pregnancy,' Columnist Writes

September 2, 2014 — "Anyone who doubts that laws restricting abortion rights actually restrict the freedom of women to fundamentally control their bodies and health should look at Indiana," Daily Beast columnist Sally Kohn writes.

Kohn highlights the case of Purvi Patel, a 33-year-old woman who faced charges in the state "after suffering premature delivery," allegedly at home, "and seeking hospital treatment." She explains that "Patel said when she saw the fetus wasn't breathing or moving, she placed it in a bag and put the bag in a dumpster."

Kohn notes that the state charged Patel with both felony neglect -- under which the state would have to "prove she gave birth to a live baby" -- and with "'feticide'" -- under which the fetus would have to have died -- even though "the facts necessary for filing the one charge ... entirely contradict the facts necessary for filing the other."

Kohn writes that "the utter illogic of the legal prosecution simply echoes the illogic of Indiana's [feticide] law and others like [it] -- which not only unconscionably (and arguably unconstitutionally) restrict a woman's right to abortion but tread dangerously close to criminalizing pregnancy as a whole."

"What these laws do deter is pregnant women seeking the health care they need or help from police or other authorities," she argues, adding that it is becoming "increasingly obvious to anyone paying attention that the supposed quest to protect fetuses is quite plainly and simply a war on the women who carry them" (Kohn, Daily Beast, 8/27).