Since the 1690s, women in the United States have been arrested and punished for experiencing miscarriages and stillbirths—pregnancy outcomes that are completely normal. This practice continues to the modern day, where prosecutors charge women with concealing a birth, concealing a death, or abuse of a corpse for the actions they take after experiencing pregnancy loss. This Note argues that these statutes were originally enacted to punish women who had sex outside of marriage and are now being used to control women, mostly women of color and poor women, for not adhering to society’s idealized vision of femininity and motherhood. The use of these statutes advances notions of fetal personhood and will ultimately have a chilling effect on the availability of abortion through telemedicine. The Note suggests that while repealing these laws would help, the best solution is to approach the issue through a reproductive justice lens—namely, increasing the availability of education and medical services for women.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Nisha Chandra