This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Pregnant Iowa Woman Arrested for Falling Down

Pregnant Iowa Woman Arrested for Falling Down - Comments

Stephen of Wimbledon's Avatar Comment 1 by Stephen of Wimbledon

What a nightmare.

Isn't this putting Clinical Staff in an invidious position?

First there is the professional confidentiality angle. Isn't the testimony of the Doctor, and possibly the Nurse too, inadmissable?

Plus, aren't the medical practitioners - assuming they are being forced by this law into informing on Christine Taylor - being diverted from their proper task of supporting her in the medical sense? How can they square putting this poor woman into gaol with their duty of care and their job of caring for the Woman's mental health and the welfare of mother and child? Doesn't the Doctor's actions thereby break their Hippocratic Oath?

Finally, Christine Taylor only reported previous, not current, thoughts. If so, she is therefore - quite clearly - being charged with Thought Crime. Welcome to a free US of A - NOT!

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 12:50:00 UTC | #445333

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 2 by Roland_F

Well it is the utmost responsibility of every Christian to get as many children as possible to “out compete” all other faith denominations so that in a few hundred or thousands of years only Christian believers are inhabiting the planet which only then is ready for the “second coming” of Jebus.
Based on this belief set, this will be definitely not the last case in the Bible Belt of the U.S. of A. for criminalizing accidents of pregnant women, and not the last case of demonizing any form of contraception, and not the last case of excommunication of 9 year old Catholic rape victims (raped from her father) and excommunication of her doctor to abort to save the life of the 9 year old mother.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 12:53:00 UTC | #445335

moniz's Avatar Comment 3 by moniz

Thought crime? The future is here! Disgusting!

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 12:54:00 UTC | #445337

Mette's Avatar Comment 4 by Mette

There are some fucked up laws around even in this time and age. It's a disgrace that white men well past middle age gets to decide over the bodies of women and punish them and their potential children for what sane humans don't regard as a crime. Some of them are stupid, yes, but they are no criminals and should not be treated as such. The way this poor woman was treated is just disgusting, and the nurse did not act like she should have if you ask me.

The more I read about this, the more I am tempted to actually begin working with women's reproductive health. I fear the religious nuts will only spread and bring this over in my part of the world.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 13:06:00 UTC | #445342

Eyerish's Avatar Comment 5 by Eyerish

Saddly these people are the ones upholding our "freedoms" around the world. I feel sorry for the state of Iowa (and any other states or countries that have these kinds of laws). They are truely in a backwards universe were the laws of reason simply do not apply.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 13:10:00 UTC | #445345

Ygern's Avatar Comment 6 by Ygern

Assuming this woman can find a decent lawyer, I can't see this case getting anywhere. But it beggars belief that such a dangerously absurd law could ever get passed in the first place.

It requires doctor-patient confidentiality to be breached; it requires medical staff to second-guess the intent of their patients without any particular evidence and it incentivizes people with a pro-life agenda to look for potential cases wherever they think they can find them.

How many women are going to be victimised by self-righteous "concern" of others? How much money and time will be wasted, trauma inflicted on women who will have to try to prove their innocence against a criminal charge at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 13:17:00 UTC | #445348

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 7 by crookedshoes

I do not believe that there is a place called "Iowa" and subsequently distrust any news stories from there. I have never been to Iowa, never met anyone from Iowa, and Iowa has no professional sports franchises. This is proof to me that it doesn't exist. Further, the area deemed "Iowa" on a map is a conspiracy forged by cartographers and upheld by the government to keep tax revenues up.
Sorry, this is a rant I go on every once in a while to show how DUMB it is to stare directly at evidence and still deny, deny, deny... Usually I use it for evolution deniers, but it is very flexible. I can easily apply it here to lawmakers, and yes, the doctors and nurses who need a witch hunt to make their day complete.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 14:06:00 UTC | #445377

willdabeast's Avatar Comment 8 by willdabeast

It doesn't just stop there. There are people who are serving time in prison because they legally bought comics that were considered "obscene". Children are being charged with manufacturing and possessing child pornography because they have semi-nude pictures of themselves on their phones.

And now you have women potentially serving life sentences because they committed the ambiguous crime of being "reckless" while pregnant.

Once you go into trial then the entire US legal system becomes a joke, especially if you're poor.

If the only thing standing between you and the death penalty for stealing some bread is a public defender with an alcohol problem because you couldn't afford a real lawyer, then obviously you would just plead guilty even if you aren't. And just be find $50 with a 1 year probation instead. I'm exaggerating a bit but hopefully you get the picture with how our "guilty until proven innocent" system works in the US.

It's really amazing how systematically evil people can be. And nearly all of it under the guise of being a loving "religion". Hah, yeah right.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 14:17:00 UTC | #445385

Spinmonkey's Avatar Comment 9 by Spinmonkey

Ridiculous? Of course, but maybe she shouldn't have incriminated herself in the first place. My motto in life is "If you don't need to know, I'm not going to tell you".

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 14:23:00 UTC | #445387

Dest's Avatar Comment 10 by Dest

Doctor patient confidentiality is about as applicable here as the confidence of a priest.

If she had come into the hospital and let slip that she had thought about killing her living two children in the past, do you think that would be under doctor patient confidentiality? No, and it would be deeply irresponsible not to act on it in that case, and in the case at hand. After the second trimester, which is the case here, abortion is not carried out pretty much anywhere in the developed world and the doctors and nurses have to consider the child as much as the parent.

So when this woman came in, having fallen down a stairs after an argument , in a clearly emotional state, and starts to talk about how she wanted to end the pregnancy previously, and was raising issues of how she would care for the child in her current state, then if the doctors/nurses felt with their experience that this woman was emotionally unstable/compromised and might be a potential risk to the child (now in third trimester and entitled to rights) then it is their professional responsibility as care providers to act on the side of caution to protect the child by contacting the police.

And if she was found not guilty then great, but by any reasonable standard they were right to investigate it.

They did their job, and they did it damn well.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 14:26:00 UTC | #445388

Ygern's Avatar Comment 11 by Ygern

Comment #465295 by Dest

Do you think this is a good law?

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 14:34:00 UTC | #445394

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 12 by crookedshoes

Yet, priests and doctors would sometimes go to the mat to protect the "sanctity" of the confidentiality. Why is it applicable in some cases and not applicable in others??? I think it has to do with the self righteousness of the particular doctor/priest and the issue in front of them.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 14:52:00 UTC | #445404

root2squared's Avatar Comment 13 by root2squared

Yes, I think if pregnant women are going to fall, they should fall up.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 15:26:00 UTC | #445419

ewaldrep's Avatar Comment 14 by ewaldrep

I think that the doctor patient privilege is not applicable here. There are guidelines that one has to legally follow and I am sure that the field of medicine is similar to psychology in which I am more familiar. Look up Tarasoff and duty to warn. Basically, if you are informed of potential harm to another, you must gather as much information and provide it to the authorities. If the woman was not in a healthy frame of mind and went home and completed an act of infanticide then it could fall on the doctor for not acting properly to avoid the outcome. I am sure it was a judgment call that was not easy to be made by the physician, nor for most others I would venture to say. As with any case or law, there are going to be times when the line is fuzzy and appears to be completely out of whack. Hopefully, our fallible system will self correct in the legal process.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 15:33:00 UTC | #445425

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 15 by irate_atheist

14. Comment #465332 by ewaldrep -

Hopefully, our fallible system will self correct in the legal process.
Yeah. Because it has a great track record for doing precisely that. [/sarcasm]

That's right, a pregnant woman was jailed for admitting to thinking about an abortion at some point early in her pregnancy and then having the audacity to fall down some stairs a couple of months later. Please tell me you find this as horrifying as I do.
Yes, I certainly do.

The lunatics are now running the asylum.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 15:42:00 UTC | #445434

Ygern's Avatar Comment 16 by Ygern

Comment #465332 by ewaldrep

Do you think this is a good law?

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 15:57:00 UTC | #445442

zengardener's Avatar Comment 17 by zengardener

This is unbelievable, well, almost.

Now women will have to go to the hospital every time they have the slightest hiccup, or be accused of neglect of the fetus.

When they get there, they will be required to be ecstatic about being pregnant. How will they be able to complain about possible problems with their pregnancy?

Can't she sue the doctor for breaking confidentiality?

Maybe the doctors would petition to have the law changed. They, at leas,t can afford Lawyers better than single, unemployed, pregnant women.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 16:04:00 UTC | #445446

ewaldrep's Avatar Comment 18 by ewaldrep

Perhaps I must state my position; I am pro-choice and am personally for abortion and euthanasia. As far as this particular law, I have not actually read the whole thing and I am also not up enough on Iowa law enough to speak to its actual use. I do think that the stage of development is important in the decision to terminate a pregnancy and I do not think that is too startling of a position to take. If the intended time that is established in the law is to prevent the suffering of an embryo with a CNS and is capable of feeling pain then I do not see why I would not support a law, as a humanist or otherwise. If the pregnancy was unwanted then there may have been ample time to make that decision and act upon it accordingly in a manner that would not involve suffering, hopefully. Again, I do not speak in certainties because there is not likely to be a statute that is going to be applicable to every situation in every context without question. In any given situation there are going to be many factors that must be considered and painting with a broad brush is not going solve everything satisfyingly.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 16:12:00 UTC | #445452

Dest's Avatar Comment 19 by Dest

Do I think it is a good law. Yes, I think it is a spectacular law. Of course I do. I cannot imagine a universe in which this law would be bad. We as a society set a bar in age at which the foetus is considered a life with a right to be brought to term. Just like we set a bar in each country on the age at which people can drink, smoke and have sex. These are variable culturally defined ages that change with the times and you could argue that the age for consent in some countries is unacceptably low, like 8 or 12 in some cases. But that does not make having a concept of an age of consent wrong.


While you can argue at length about the stage in the development of a foetus at which it transitions from a collection of organic systems into a consciousness, you cannot argue against the idea that once that consciousness exists it is entitled to inalienable human rights. Do I believe a day old foetus, a 'collection of cells' has these rights? No. Nor does that law, given it applies to the third trimester. And lets nail that out clearly. This law applies to the third trimester. How is the ' collection of cells' at the start of the third trimester.

'Week 28 - week one of third trimester.

Otherwise healthy babies born this week have a 90 percent chance of survival without physical or neurological impairment — and the odds improve with each passing week.'

Now I am no medical expert. But if a baby can be delivered at this point, and has a 90 percent survival rate, I am pretty freaking sure it is alive. Unless it becomes alive several weeks after being born, which would certainly be interesting.

So yeah, I think protecting the child's rights in the third trimester by law is a spectacular idea, and personally I would push that back a few weeks to a point where if prematurely delivered the foetus would stand a near zero percent chance of survival as that would be a pretty solid catch net as to whether they are alive to me.

Why is doctor/patient confidentiality applicable in some cases and not in others? I would like to think that it becomes inapplicable the moment the information being disclosed presents a risk to the lives of others, or indicates through words, actions taken or planned to be taken which would trample on the basic human rights of others as defined by the law.

People are shouting about 'thought crime'.
If a friend walked up to you and laughingly said 'man, those assholes at the IRS, id love to kill em.' You would laugh this off. If a stranger came up to you , and appearing emotionally unstable began talking about how he wanted to bomb a federal building, your ass would and should be on the phone, whether you are a doctor, priest or electrician.

If said rambling person is then found to have no actual means or intent to carry out his ramblings then he is not guilty and there is no harm, as would be the case in 99 cases out of 100. But if in a search of his home you find 500lbs of fertiliser then the guy is probably guilty and you have saved lives through a little common sense social responsibility.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 16:16:00 UTC | #445458

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 20 by NewEnglandBob

Comment #465365 by Dest:

You go on about protecting fetuses at a certain point, and that is fine but the real issue here is intent.

Did she admit that she wanted to abort the fetus that day or that week or that month? This is a thought crime. It is not a good law at all.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 17:00:00 UTC | #445477

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 21 by crookedshoes

I work with high school kids. They say stuff all day every day that would / could be borderline. Over this past weekend we had the unfortunate occurence of SEVEN students setting up a suicide pact. Two of them jumped in front of an Acela (120 mph) train, embracing. Sifting through their facebook posts is frightening.....the signs are there. They are also on the five kids pages who didn't follow through. How do we then, determine the difference? It is typically only AFTER THE FACT that we get any understanding at all. I agree with your last post to a degree. I think your argument is tight. However, I am leery of bring someone to task for something that might have maybe kinda sorta coulda crossed her mind one day and maybe sorta is almost kinda ballpark to what occured months later. The end of your post shows correlation, suspicious guy, 5oo lbs fertilizer, you make a case. What is the case against this woman and would you CONVICT????

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 17:11:00 UTC | #445485

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 22 by Nunbeliever

As ALWAYS... only in America. And you americans wonder why the rest of the world either think of you as hypocrites or lunatics???

You all know that the possibility of being convicted for thought crimes is the one true characteristic of totalitarianism.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 17:14:00 UTC | #445488

Dest's Avatar Comment 23 by Dest

See here is the thing. And I will try and nail two birds with one stone. Intent is not the issue here. Whether or not she is guilty or innocent has nothing to do with this argument. And this also ties into crookedshoes and the terrible real world situation they describe from personal experience. The overall question being how do we determine the difference between intent and the determination to follow through.

The simple and obvious answer is you cannot.

You say two people died that day. Could as easily have been seven or three or six and it would still be the same common messages in their social network pages. You would still be telling the same story with the same argument.

But sadly you only became aware of it after the fact. What if you had become aware of it before the fact. You could not possibly determine off hand whether it was serious or not, but in that situation , you or a doctor or a priest could take steps to investigate it on the possibility that it was real.

And that is what the law allowed that doctor and nurse to set in motion.

On to anti carrot. First off, thanks for you're right, you're not comment.I did not think a citation would be needed for something which can be googled by a laymen such as myself in under a minute, but here is your citation.

Backed up by

I also never implied a flawless end result of a foetus born that early, as it clearly stated a 10 percent chance of physical or mental problems in the original quote.

Luckily for a lot of children born with disabilities , being flawless is not a required part of being allowed to live.

Also of course falling down a stairs will leave you distressed, but the professionals, the doctor and the nurse, not you or me, were the ones there that night, seeing her condition and reacting to the way she was talking, and they concluded that there was a possibility of risk, and so took action. What are we to wait for, a guarantee of risk? Sign this document that you plan to commit a murder so we can investigate you? No thanks.

And also, you find out the guy with the fertilizer is a farmer how? By following up on the threat to act.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 17:21:00 UTC | #445491

ANTIcarrot's Avatar Comment 24 by ANTIcarrot

#465365 Dest...
[quote]While you can argue at length about the stage in the development of a foetus at which it transitions from a collection of organic systems into a consciousness, you cannot argue against the idea that once that consciousness exists it is entitled to inalienable human rights.[/quote]

Yes you can, to both objections. Firstly, a foetus is not necessarily concious before birth. We *want* a nice simple demarcation, but that doesn't make it true. Secondly, basic conciousness does not automatically grant ethical consideration, as most mammals have more than that level of mentality, and yet are given no ethical or legal consideration.

[quote]Now I am no medical expert. But if a baby can be delivered at this point, and has a 90 percent survival rate,[/quote]

You're right. You're not. Citation please.

Any number of Romanian orphanage horror stories will reveal the hidden problem of making it to the end of the third trimester 'without physical or neurological impairment'. Being 'born' without problems is no garantee that happy state of affairs will continue.

Babies are like airfix kits. Flawless parts do not garantee a flawless end result; as you imply here.

[quote]...and appearing emotionally unstable...[/quote]
Okay, because you're not a doctor, I'll point something out to you: FALLING DOWN THE STAIRS CAN KILL YOU! Being *almost killed* is a rather traumatic experience for almost anyone. This is often compounded by paramedics (reasonably) telling you not to move because they assume you might have a hidden and crippling injury.

Personally I have a problem with people who don't 'peer review' their concerns. Are there any other possible explanations? Are any of them more reasonable? Not being a headless chicken is also an aspect of social responsibility.

Threat fertiliser = problem (maybe)
Threat fertiliser FARMER =/= problem (probably)

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 17:24:00 UTC | #445492

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 25 by InYourFaceNewYorker

"...for the first time in her life she was looking, with knowledge, at a member of The Thought Police."

Once again, this whole thing is one step away from my "Menstruation Ban Trilogy."

Read it at:

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 17:25:00 UTC | #445493

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 26 by crookedshoes

The fact that you can not tell the difference is exactly the reason it is a lousy law. I agree with much of your posture here. I think I draw the line at a different point, though. The fact that two or seven or three or even ZERO could have died that day argues strongly that this is a lousy law. Usually this type of threat is idle... in the aftermath we realize for those that follow through, there was no real way to distinguish their suicidal rhetoric from other suicidal rhetoric except for the end result. Again, this, in my book, argues that this is a lousy law.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 17:35:00 UTC | #445499

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 27 by crookedshoes

I think I see the root of the problem, here. The article says she was ARRESTED, not investigated. Arrested insinuates, to me, that she was reported by the doctor/nurse (which I really do not object to), then investigated, then ARRESTED...a la handcuffs and police....
And, you talk about the investigation being done by the doctor or a priest...THEY don't investigate and arrest, the police do.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 17:51:00 UTC | #445507

Dest's Avatar Comment 28 by Dest

Your case though can't be said to apply crookedshoes because it was only discovered after the fact. If you had found out about a possible death pact before hand then would you not have raised it as something that should be investigated? Only after that point could professionals hazard a guess at whether they were serious or not. No law can avoid every tragedy. But in this instance, enough flags were raised in the doctor's mind that this person was a possible risk that it was worth investigating.

Similarly if a school finds out that there is a death pact between several children then they have the duty to raise a flag for that to be investigated on the 1 in 1000 chance that after some time with a psychologist it was found that said pact was the real deal.

And the truth of that lies in my question to you, if tomorrow, you found out about a similar pact between kids in your school, would you raise a flag, or hope that it was just a false alarm. I am pretty sure you in that situation would now raise a flag.

Now if one of those students engaged in a minor act of self harm, was delivered to a hospital and mentioned the death pact, and the doctor did not call the police to have it investigated, I do not know about you but I would find that doctor guilty of deep negligence.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 17:57:00 UTC | #445508

Dest's Avatar Comment 29 by Dest

You can be arrested 'on suspicion of' too. The only point at which i would have an issue is if she was wrongly convicted of. Of course she was arrested because it was serious enough to take to trial. The trial is part of the determination of guilt. In theory we are dealing with an attempted murder. Of course she was arrested. Arrest does not equal guilt.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 18:00:00 UTC | #445511

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 30 by crookedshoes

You are absolutely right. The investigation would be allowed BY LAW. However the kids would not be ARRRESTED for simply saying they were going to hurt themselves. You are blurring the law to apply to a bigger picture than law actually applies. This woman was ARRESTED for thinking things a while back. The kids should be investigated absolutely and what if it is a slam dunk investigation???? You find a pact, you find depression, you find awful words and even intention. The law that allowed you to investigate is a DIFFERENT law than the one that would result in the kids arrest. That is the point the law that allowed investigation is a good law. The law that had her arrested is a bad law.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 18:04:00 UTC | #445514