Staff Columnist

The Iowa GOP is making it a crime to be a woman

ABORTION RALLY 2 DAILY.041100.JAC--(PUBLISHED: Christa Watson (left), and her sister, Sarah Goff, both of Iowa City, lis
ABORTION RALLY 2 DAILY.041100.JAC--(PUBLISHED: Christa Watson (left), and her sister, Sarah Goff, both of Iowa City, listen to a speaker at a rally Tuesday on the Pedestrian Mall. The rally was against the " Women's Right to Know Bill," which passed both the Iowa Senate and House before Gov. Vilsack vetoed the bill on Friday.) Christa Watson (left), and her sister, Sarah Goff, both of Iowa City, listen to a speaker at a rally against the Women's Right to Know Bill that passed both the senate and the house before Gov. Vilsack vetoed the bill on Friday, Tuesday evening, Apr. 11, 2000 on the Pedestrian Mall in Iowa City.

It was in early October when I gave birth to death. Only three weeks before, I peed on a stick and discovered I was pregnant. It’s a weird phrasing—discovering you are pregnant, but it’s also a weird experience—urine, a toilet in a dimly lit basement bathroom.

My husband and I were excited. We already had one healthy happy girl and we planned on at least one more child.

But three weeks later, I came home from a run and began bleeding. The bleeding continued on and off for the next two days. It was a Saturday and my doctor told me that I was miscarrying. I was to stay home and come in on Monday.

I am tired of fighting for my life at the hands of legislators, who in the name of Jesus, want me dead or in jail because I didn’t do with our bodies what they thought I should do. And bills like this, which subordinate scientific fact to religious fervor do little more than make it criminal to be a woman.

-

I spent most of that weekend in the dimly lit basement bathroom, watching tissue and blood expel into that toilet. I could have been anywhere from 10 to 12 weeks along. I don’t know. My body’s rhythms still weren’t regular after the birth of my first child. And those early days of pregnancy are hard to track. Each woman’s cycle is different. Most doctors won’t see you for an appointment until after 12 weeks. By the time I went to the doctor, the miscarriage was over.

Miscarriage is as natural to the process of life as birth. National estimates put the miscarriage rate at 15 to 20 percent of all pregnancies. Some researchers think it could be higher, because of the number of women who miscarry without ever knowing they were pregnant.

The majority of miscarriages are the body’s self-selecting process for life and viability. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist estimate that 60 percent of miscarriages occur when a fetus has an abnormal number of chromosomes, something that happens by chance. In so many other cases, the causes of miscarriage are just unknown.

But Republican sponsored legislation would send women like me to jail for our miscarriages. House File 2478 requires death certificates in the cases of abortions or miscarriages which happen at 12 weeks or greater. Also, if the pregnancy loss happens in a medical facility the bill would require the fetal tissue to be buried or cremated. Women violating this law would be guilty of a “serious misdemeanor”, punishable by jail and a fine of up to $1,875. In sum, this bill criminalizes the very processes of life. It also puts an undue financial burden on women for the cost of the cremation and burial.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

The other thing this bill does is change the language from “fetal remains” to “bodily remains”, which shifts the balance of power from the mother’s body to the mass of fertilized cells in her. The righteous crusade of this legislation hides behind the language of science. Zygotes contain the potential for life, ergo they are life, goes the logic. But that’s not how life works. Just because life begins to form at conception, does not make it fully formed or viable. Just because your religion calls a fetus a baby, doesn’t mean there is scientific consensus on the issue, In fact, there is no true scientific consensus on when a zygote crosses over to fully-formed human. The main opposition groups registered in response to this bill are doctors and medical lobbying groups, who understand that criminalizing a miscarriage is akin to putting a tree in jail every time it drops a leaf.

This bill, designed to help preserve the sancitity of life, actually makes it more difficult for women to live. I am tired of fighting for my life at the hands of legislators, who in the name of Jesus, want me dead or in jail because I didn’t do with my body what they thought I should do. And bills like this, which subordinate scientific fact to religious fervor do little more than make it criminal to be a woman.

lyz.lenz@thegazette.com; (319) 368-8513

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.