Welcome to NAPW's new web site and blog!
Although it is still a work in progress, we are proud to launch a new more beautiful and user-friendly NAPW site. Thanks to John Emerson, Wen-Hua Yang, Wyndi Anderson, and Deb Harper for all of their help.
While we celebrate our new site, we also launch our blog with this question: Have Alaska legislators lost their minds?
Last night, NAPW staff received a call from Alaska activists challenging a bill called “an Act relating to offenses against unborn children.” (SB No. 20(JUD)) The bill redefines the state's murder, and assault laws to include the “unborn” defined as a “member of the species Homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.” Individuals who cause the death of or physical injury to the unborn can be punished for a range of serious crimes. While the statute exempts doctors who perform legal abortions on pregnant women who consent, it does not generally exempt pregnant women in relationship to their own bodies. In other words a pregnant woman who “allows” herself to be battered, who suffers from untreated diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or addiction, or one who works or lives where there are environmental hazards, could be charged with murder or assault if she is unable to guarantee a healthy birth. In fact the bill specifically states that “a child [born] before 37 weeks gestation with weight at birth of 2,500 grams or less is prima facie evidence of serious physical injury.”
What that means is, if you give birth early to a low birth weight baby, be prepared for the first person you see to be an interrogating police officer not a neonatologist. Perhaps the legislators who wrote and are supporting this bill assume that somehow it won't be enforced against new mothers grieving miscarriages and stillbirths or worrying about whether or not their premie will make it. But, NAPW knows that this is exactly how police and prosecutors across the country have applied similar laws -even ones that do bother to make clear that they don't apply to pregnant women themselves. So the question is do Alaska legislators really want to send the following message to pregnant women in their state?
If you are at risk for a premature birth, a miscarriage or stillbirth, or if you have any doubt about your ability to produce a perfectly healthy baby - abort now -- or anything you say, do, or give birth to may be used against you in a court of law!