Over at The New York Times, Lynn M. Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin take a look at a variety of legal cases where women have been unduly targeted under anti-abortion rulings, even women who were not actually seeking abortions. Many abortion bans in various states go past limiting abortion rights and include ways of targeting women, placing the rights of the fetus ahead of the mother. Paltrow and Flavin provide a laundry list of women who were impacted by these types of laws. Not one of them was seeking an abortion.
Unfortunately, these are only a handful of examples where policy is being used to criminalize women and their pregnancies. The anti-choice contingent is so feverishly against abortion that they are willing to trample on the rights of all women to push their beliefs. Because of their unwillingness to trust women, they're making it more difficult for those they ostensibly want to protect: moms and babies. Imagine being pregnant, taking a bad fall and having a miscarriage late into your pregnancy. In addition to the horrible grief you'd most likely experience, depending on the state you live in, you might also have to fear being charged with fetal homicide. That is absolutely unacceptable.
And, unfortunately, it's only the entry point for the overall criminalization of motherhood we've been seeing in our country. Our society holds up ideals of motherhood for all to emulate, while at the same time it looks down on and demonizes poor mothers and mothers of color. We can't pick and choose which mothers to support — it simply doesn't work that way. We need to offer more support and better policy — and by that I mean not legally targeting mothers for things like miscarriages or stillborn babies.
Instead of sensationalizing and exploiting stories about pregnant women and mothers, let's change up the narrative, provide platforms for more voices and support them with policies that don't target them. Criminalizing women and mothers in hopes of preventing abortion isn't going to help babies or families. If anything, it will only hurt them in the end.
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