Criminalized Abortion: Coming to a State Near You

Utah State Rep. Carl Wimmer is running for re-election. Not exactly surprising news in that state, where he’s been basking in loads of media attention as the author of  Utah’s latest assault on women, H.B. 462, otherwise known as the Criminal Homicide and Abortions Revisions.

The anti-abortion bill that became law this week in Utah was Wimmer’s most recent attempt to weaken Roe v. Wade. If you’ve been following the Ms. Blog posts, you know that the new law criminalizes choice. Wimmer’s goal is to spread this legislation across the country through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), he said in an interview with Rose Aguilar on The Smirking Chimp blog.

How did Wimmer come up with the new legislation? He heard about a 17-year old young woman, seven months pregnant, who paid a man $150 to beat her up. She was hoping it would induce a miscarriage. It didn’t work, and the baby was born and adopted. The man was sentenced to up to five years for the “attempted killing of an unborn child,” but a judge released the young woman because there was no law on Utah’s books allowing the pregnant woman to be charged with a crime. Alarmed, Wimmer swung into action.

You might think he was moved by compassion for someone driven to such a desperate action. You would be wrong. According to Karrie Galloway, CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, he moved to close the legal loophole because there was “no law for her to be punished more.”

Utah requires a minor to get parental consent before getting an abortion or get a judicial bypass. The young woman, who was 16 years old when she became pregnant, lives in a rural part of Utah. According to Galloway, there are no abortion providers in her area. The closest clinic is in Salt Lake City, about three or four hours away. Once there, she would have get to a clinic and it would have to arrange for her to appear before a judge. She would also be subject to a 24-hour waiting period, even if she could see the judge the day she arrived.

Imagine how this scenario plays out: She would need to either return home or stay overnight. She’s 16-years old–does she have a credit card to pay for a hotel? Considering the judge, the waiting period and then her physical discomfort after the abortion procedure, she might need to spend a few days in the city. What does she tell her parents?

Apparently she didn’t feel she could discuss her pregnancy with her parents in the first place, which started this chain of unfortunate events. And it’s been reported that her boyfriend insisted that she terminate the pregnancy or he’d leave her. Of course all these real-life complications aren’t seen by the likes of Carl Wimmer.

Anyone who remembers what it was like to be in love at 16 should be able to understand her fear, trauma and confusion. She did what she thought made sense, paying someone to help her miscarry.

Now Utah–and other states, if Wimmer is successful in his new campaign–will treat her like a criminal. What can we do about it? For one thing, if you’re thinking of a spring break trip to Utah, don’t go. Instead, let the Travel and Tourism Bureau know you don’t want to spend time in a place where women could be charged with homicide for trying to end a pregnancy.

Image from the Winning Message Action Fund’s 2008 How Much Time Campaign.


  1. Wendy Bice says:

    This is so disturbing on so many, many levels. My heart is anguished over the poor girl and her experience, and angered at Wimmer and his idiocy.

  2. Bravo, Carol, very well said. I am constantly amazed by the lack of compassion in the anti-choice movement for living, breathing women – and particularly for those who are driven to such desperate measures.

    I love the image with this piece. I’ve asked a few people who are anti-choice about how much time a woman should serve if abortion is criminalized and the universally consistent answer is: “Ah, well… the doctor should be prosecuted.” Fine. Also not what I asked. We’ve got to keep asking the tough questions, because it peels back the layers and gets to the heart and truth of the anti-choice movement.

  3. Your piece is so well articulated as to get my dander completely UP!
    The dehumanizing treatment this young woman saw as her only recourse
    is only a mirror of the society in which she is living in OUR TIME IN OUR

    We fought hard to make choice legal and ignorant politicians are trying to take it away from young, vulnerable, loving girls and women. These oblivious naysayers should be neutered asap against their will so they can know what it’s like to have no control over their own bodies.

    Congrats on really riling me up, Ms King.

  4. Those who are opposed to abortion are often fiscal as well as social conservatives (and Utah is the reddest of red states) so they ought to understand that the best way to decrease the number of abortions is to decrease DEMAND, not SUPPLY.

    Thanks for the update on this issue, but I must ask: is avoiding Utah as a travel destination and complaining to its tourism board really a good strategy for challenging this kind of regressive policy?

  5. Can anyone even begin to imagine how desperate you have to be to pay somebody to beat you up? This is such an awful story on so many levels it’s almost beyond comprehension. Mind you I think anybody who takes money to punch a young woman in the stomach pregnant or not deserves to have time to consider his own choices. That is a whole different issue.
    These two blogs are so well written, professional, thought provoking and vital.

  6. Thanks for keeping great posts!

  7. Thanks for good news!

  8. It's awful that she went to such desperate measures,but that doesn't mean all women should be held accountable. And regardless of how much money the girl payed that man he didn't have to do it.


  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by MIWomensForum: Another awesome post from my friend Carol King: Criminalized abortion in Utah & coming to a state near you –

  2. […] Criminalized Abortion: Coming to a State Near You- A new bill was made into law in Utah which “criminalizes choice” and “weakens Roe vs. Wade.” After a 16 year-old-girl paid a man to beat her up up in the hopes of inducing a miscarriage, (her boyfriend insisted she end the pregnancy or he’d leave her, the nearest abortion clinic is 3-4 hours away, and parental consent is required along with judicial consent and a 24-hour waiting period to obtain an abortion) has inspired Carl Wimmer to create a law, as she was not “punished enough” for her actions. Clearly, this girl was desperate and should be HELPED instead of punished. […]

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