July 22, 2024 2:59 pm
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Local News

Abortion Bans Threaten Jail Time For Pregnant People

Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, pregnant people could now be sent to prison if they experience a miscarriage or stillbirth. Advocates for abortion access, like the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), have been tracking cases where pregnant people were charged with a crime because of a miscarriage or stillbirth. NAPW found that between 1973 and 2020, there were over 1,700 cases where pregnant women were arrested and prosecuted because of a miscarriage or abortion, with 1,331 of those cases happening after 2006. Defenders of abortion bans note that nearly all of the laws say that a parent cannot be charged for getting an abortion. However, NAPW has shown that police and prosecutors are using related laws to put parents who experience a miscarriage in prison anyways. Recently, an Alabama woman was charged with manslaughter after being shot in the stomach and losing her pregnancy. Another woman in Iowa was charged with feticide after she fainted and fell down the stairs. Women have also been jailed for “abusing a corpse” and “hiding a birth” when they didn’t follow the correct reporting procedure after a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Despite Nevada’s protections for reproductive rights, the state has several laws on the books used in other states to charge parents who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth. It is against the law to try to conceal a birth in Nevada, even if it is a miscarriage or stillbirth. Similar laws were used to charge women in Arkansas and Virginia with felonies when they failed to follow the proper reporting procedures after experiencing a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Nevada also has a feticide law that says it is illegal to try to cause an abortion unless you are a licensed physician or are using abortion pills as prescribed by a doctor. It is similar to the law that was used to charge a pregnant woman with feticide after she fell down the stairs. Nevada is also the only state that specifically allows for women to be charged with feticide if they take an abortion pill after 24 weeks of pregnancy. In Mississippi, a woman who experienced stillbirth was charged with murder based only on an internet search for an abortion pill. Laws like these can threaten parents with prison time for experiencing a miscarriage or stillbirth.