Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rights of Pregnant Women Non-Existent Compared to the Unborn

I found an article titled “Pregnant? Don’t Fall Down the Stairs” on Alternet. The article describes a horrible chain of events that happened to an Iowa woman, Christine Taylor.

Christine Taylor has two children and is pregnant with her third. Her husband left her after she told him she was pregnant with their third child. She recently became upset after speaking on the phone with her estranged husband. When she got off the phone she was feeling light headed and she fell down the stairs. Paramedics came and checked out Ms. Taylor and said that she was healthy. However, since she was pregnant she wanted to go to the Emergency Room and make sure her fetus was alright.

After receiving treatment, she confided in a nurse that she was scared and didn’t know if she wanted to continue the pregnancy.

"I never said I didn’t want my baby, but I admitted that I had been considering adoption or abortion," she said. "I admit that I said I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue the pregnancy. My husband sends me money, but money doesn’t make a parent. I don’t have anybody else to turn to."

Taylor was at the beginning of her second trimester, but her chart noted that she was in the first week of the third trimester. The nurse told the doctor, who in turn called the police. Ms. Taylor was arrested and charged under Iowa’s fetal homicide law.

The law makes a violent act committed against a pregnant woman in her third trimester criminal. Thirty-seven states currently have fetal homicide laws. The laws are an attempt to gain personhood for fetuses before they are viable. The law that Christine Taylor was charged under “makes it a felony to intentionally terminate a pregnancy ‘with the knowledge and voluntary consent of the pregnant person after the end of the second trimester,’ unless it is done for the life and the health of the mother.”

The charges were eventually dropped, but only because Taylor is actually in the beginning of the second trimester, not the third.

The question here is how did this become a legal matter in the first place? How did the police obtain a statement that a patient made to a medical provider during the course of treatment?
As the article points out, this law was enacted to “protect the life of the unborn.” But that is not what’s being done here. If it was about protecting the unborn, then it would provide access to contraceptives and abortion services so that women who are pregnant want to be pregnant, it would provide access to prenatal care for pregnant women, adequate parental leave, policies protecting breastfeeding mothers, keeping women away from abusive partners, and making sure that women make enough money to be able to support a family.

“This is about innocent lives being trampled upon though. This is about the lives of the women and children who are here now: living, breathing, laughing, struggling, nurturing, being. It’s about making sure families like Christine Taylor and her two children have the means to live safely, free to make the best decisions they can about their health and lives, without fear of prosecution or retribution from anti-choice advocates aiming to criminalize pregnant women’s choices.”

What can this mean for pregnant women? Are there no good options? Christine Taylor made the choice to confide in someone, to seek help from someone who was supposed to help her. Instead, she got put jail. Does this mean that pregnant women can’t seek help without fearing that they too will be subjected to the agendas of conservative anti-choice persons?

If there is anything we can learn from this it is that perhaps we should concentrate more on the legal and social rights of those that are already here as opposed to those who will be.


  1. Wow, this is incredible! I agree and I can't believe she was put in jail. The first red-flag was her confidentiality rights. How did this happen!?

  2. I love this post - kudos. I hope she gets some form of justice for the way she was treated.