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Thread: Woman who attempted suicide while pregnant is accused of murder

  1. #16
    Elite Member Just Kill Me's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMama View Post
    Yes, I totally agree with that, but I am so very tired of one party running roughshod over another's life and then walking away with no consequences. I have very mixed feelings about this case, it just makes me so sad for this woman and child.
    Yeah, it's pretty fucked.
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    Outcry in America as pregnant women who lose babies face murder charges | World news | The Guardian

    Outcry in America as pregnant women who lose babies face murder charges

    Women's rights campaigners see the creeping criminalisation of pregnant women as a new front in the culture wars over abortion



    Across the US, more and more prosecutions are being brought against women who lose their babies. Photograph: Alamy

    Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.
    Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby's death – they charged her with the "depraved-heart murder" of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence. Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby. But her case is by no means isolated. Across the US more and more prosecutions are being brought that seek to turn pregnant women into criminals.
    "Women are being stripped of their constitutional personhood and subjected to truly cruel laws," said Lynn Paltrow of the campaign National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW). "It's turning pregnant women into a different class of person and removing them of their rights."

    Bei Bei Shuai, 34, has spent the past three months in a prison cell in Indianapolis charged with murdering her baby. On 23 December she tried to commit suicide by taking rat poison after her boyfriend abandoned her.

    Shuai was rushed to hospital and survived, but she was 33 weeks pregnant and her baby, to whom she gave birth a week after the suicide attempt and whom she called Angel, died after four days. In March Shuai was charged with murder and attempted foeticide and she has been in custody since without the offer of bail.

    In Alabama at least 40 cases have been brought under the state's "chemical endangerment" law. Introduced in 2006, the statute was designed to protect children whose parents were cooking methamphetamine in the home and thus putting their children at risk from inhaling the fumes.

    Amanda Kimbrough is one of the women who have been ensnared as a result of the law being applied in a wholly different way. During her pregnancy her foetus was diagnosed with possible Down's syndrome and doctors suggested she consider a termination, which Kimbrough declined as she is not in favour of abortion.
    The baby was delivered by caesarean section prematurely in April 2008 and died 19 minutes after birth.

    Six months later Kimbrough was arrested at home and charged with "chemical endangerment" of her unborn child on the grounds that she had taken drugs during the pregnancy – a claim she has denied.
    "That shocked me, it really did," Kimbrough said. "I had lost a child, that was enough."

    She now awaits an appeal ruling from the higher courts in Alabama, which if she loses will see her begin a 10-year sentence behind bars. "I'm just living one day at a time, looking after my three other kids," she said. "They say I'm a criminal, how do I answer that? I'm a good mother."

    Women's rights campaigners see the creeping criminalisation of pregnant women as a new front in the culture wars over abortion, in which conservative prosecutors are chipping away at hard-won freedoms by stretching protection laws to include foetuses, in some cases from the day of conception. In Gibbs' case defence lawyers have argued before Mississippi's highest court that her prosecution makes no sense. Under Mississippi law it is a crime for any person except the mother to try to cause an abortion.

    "If it's not a crime for a mother to intentionally end her pregnancy, how can it be a crime for her to do it unintentionally, whether by taking drugs or smoking or whatever it is," Robert McDuff, a civil rights lawyer asked the state supreme court.
    McDuff told the Guardian that he hoped the Gibbs prosecution was an isolated example. "I hope it's not a trend that's going to catch on. To charge a woman with murder because of something she did during pregnancy is really unprecedented and quite extreme."

    He pointed out that anti-abortion groups were trying to amend the Mississippi constitution by setting up a state referendum, or ballot initiative, that would widen the definition of a person under the state's bill of rights to include a foetus from the day of conception.

    Some 70 organisations across America have come together to file testimonies, known as amicus briefs, in support of Gibbs that protest against her treatment on several levels. One says that to treat "as a murderer a girl who has experienced a stillbirth serves only to increase her suffering".

    Another, from a group of psychologists, laments the misunderstanding of addiction that lies behind the indictment. Gibbs did not take cocaine because she had a "depraved heart" or to "harm the foetus but to satisfy an acute psychological and physical need for that particular substance", says the brief.

    Perhaps the most persuasive argument put forward in the amicus briefs is that if such prosecutions were designed to protect the unborn child, then they would be utterly counter-productive:

    "Prosecuting women and girls for continuing [a pregnancy] to term despite a drug addiction encourages them to terminate wanted pregnancies to avoid criminal penalties. The state could not have intended this result when it adopted the homicide statute."

    Paltrow sees what is happening to Gibbs as a small taste of what would be unleashed were the constitutional right to an abortion ever overturned. "In Mississippi the use of the murder statute is creating a whole new legal standard that makes women accountable for the outcome of their pregnancies and threatens them with life imprisonment for murder."

    Miscarriage of justice

    At least 38 of the 50 states across America have introduced foetal homicide laws that were intended to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from violent attacks by third parties – usually abusive male partners – but are increasingly being turned by renegade prosecutors against the women themselves.

    South Carolina was one of the first states to introduce such a foetal homicide law. National Advocates for Pregnant Women has found only one case of a South Carolina man who assaulted a pregnant woman having been charged under its terms, and his conviction was eventually overturned. Yet the group estimates there have been up to 300 women arrested for their actions during pregnancy.
    In other states laws designed to protect children against the damaging effects of drugs have similarly been twisted to punish childbearers.
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    so fucked up.
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    Elite Member stef's Avatar
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    ^^ that's all there is to say, really. this is sickening.
    "This is not meant to be at all offensive: You suffer from diarrhea of the mouth but constipation of the brain." - McJag

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    No government nanny state interfering in my life!! Unless it involves unborn babies! Then the government must save them ALL! Only until they're born and then fuck 'em! If the babies are born into poverty and a shitty education system and are on a career track for prison, who fucking cares- fixing that shit is socialism! All that matters is that every baby ever conceived gets born!
    Baby, by the time you have kids and they're in school, no one will care about you.

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    yeah, I'll be the unpopular one. some of these people are just stupid and should be charged. if you're cooking meth while pregnant, charge 'em. the suicide one, charge her too.
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  7. #22
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    Protect Pregnant Women: Free Bei Bei Shuai




    Bei Bei Shuai. (AP Photo/Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department)

    On March 14, Bei Bei Shuai will have spent one full year in jail in Marion County, Indiana. Her crime? The prosecutor calls it attempted feticide and murder. What it really is: attempting suicide while pregnant.
    In December 2010 Shuai was running a Chinese restaurant in Indianapolis with her boyfriend, Zhiliang Guan, by whom she was eight months pregnant. Just before Christmas, he informed her that he was married and had another family, to which he was returning. When Shuai begged him to stay, he threw money at her and left her weeping on her knees in a parking lot. Despairing, she took rat poison and wrote a letter in Mandarin saying she was killing herself and would “take this baby with me to Hades”; friends got her to the hospital just in time to save her life. Eight days later her baby, Angel, was delivered by Caesarean section and died of a cerebral hemorrhage within four days. Three months later, the newly elected prosecutor, Terry Curry—a Democrat—brought charges, claiming that the rat poison that almost killed Shuai had killed her baby. If convicted, she faces forty-five to sixty-five years in prison.

    It is hard to know where to begin listing what’s wrong with this case. Consider the health ramifications: attempting suicide is not a crime in Indiana. It’s the tragic result of mental illness, depression and extreme emotional distress; and it’s not uncommon for pregnant women to seriously consider it, or even try it. According to a 2010 study in Obstetrics & Gynecology, suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among pregnant women. Pregnant women in crisis need and deserve compassion and treatment. But if Shuai is convicted, what pregnant woman will seek help? “Every major medical and public health organization that has considered the issue has concluded that it is dangerous for maternal and fetal health to hold women criminally liable for their pregnancy outcomes,” says Emma Ketteringham, director of legal advocacy for National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), which is co-counsel to Shuai’s defense. Eighty such groups and experts—including the National Perinatal Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Nurses Association—have filed amicus briefs.

    Unfortunately, punishing women for their behavior during pregnancy is becoming more and more common, fueled by the passage of “unborn victims of violence” laws in at least thirty-eight states declaring the fetus (or, in twenty of those states, even the embryo or fertilized egg) a separate victim in cases of homicide. In most instances these laws were intended to protect pregnant women from violence, especially from abusive partners, not to apply to the women themselves. But that is what has happened, as the antiabortion forces have gained power. “The prosecution’s legal arguments are exactly based on legal arguments behind the personhood measures now moving through the states,” Lynn Paltrow, executive director of NAPW, told me by phone. “They treat the fetus as completely separate within the pregnant woman. How can you be separate and within?”
    Pro-choicers have focused on the dangers fetal personhood measures present to abortion rights. That danger is real: they’re part of the antiabortion strategy to build up the legal status of the fetus as a person in so many parts of the law that when the Supreme Court finally revisits Roe v. Wade, a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy will look like a bizarre exception. But these laws pose broader dangers to women, because they hold pregnant women liable for any conduct during pregnancy that a local prosecutor suspects caused a bad outcome—and bear in mind that every year 15-20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, 1 percent end in stillbirth and another 19,000 end in neonatal death. Under these laws, hundreds of pregnant women have been arrested, often on only tenuous evidence that their actions, including drug use, harmed their fetuses. In Alabama sixty women have faced such charges.
    “These laws say there’s one law for pregnant women and another for everyone else,” says Linda Pence, the energetic Indiana lawyer representing Shuai. “For everyone else suicide is a mental health issue.

    For a pregnant woman, it’s a crime. That’s a violation of women’s constitutional right to equal treatment under the law.” If Shuai is convicted, Pence notes a further paradox: “If you’re two months pregnant and try to commit suicide, you can be charged with feticide, even though you could have a legal abortion.” Although maybe not for long.
    In its briefs the state portrays Shuai as a heartless and calculating home wrecker who lived with a married man and “committed a cold-blooded and intentional act that ended the life of her unborn child” in order to punish him when he left. But who is really being cold-blooded here? The woman who tried to kill herself, who held her baby for five hours as her life slipped away and wept inconsolably when she died? and who then went into a psych unit? Or the prosecution who thinks pregnant women are legally required to stay sane until they give birth?
    In February Shuai was granted bail on appeal—something, says Pence, no defendant in a murder case in Indiana has won in more than a hundred years. The bad news is that the court of appeals refused to dismiss the case. For now, Shuai remains in jail. I asked Curry if those eighty expert amicus briefs gave him pause. “I’m the prosecuting attorney,” he replied. “We don’t make the law. We enforce the law.”

    How you can help: keep up with the case on Twitter @FreeBeiBei; “like” Free Bei Bei Shuai on Facebook; donate to NAPW at advocatesforpregnantwomen.org or by check to NAPW, 15 West 36 Street, #901, New York, NY 10018; write to Bei Bei in care of NAPW. You can also sign the petition to free Bei Bei Shuai.

    Protect Pregnant Women: Free Bei Bei Shuai | The Nation

  8. #23
    Elite Member Kat Scorp's Avatar
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    For fucks sake, the inmates are running the god damned asylum.
    Who was the first person to say, "See that chicken there? I'm gonna eat the next thing that comes outta its bum"?


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    So wait, if she went home and gave her baby rat poison because her boyfriend wouldn't leave his wife, it's ok? She's a victim of his sperm? She wanted the baby it seems because she thought it would sway the guy into coming with her. If she was that close to delivery she could have just given the baby up for adoption. She wasn't trapped. Obviously she was out of her mind and not criminal. As far as the drug charges go, if she was driving while doing drugs and killed a family she'd get less time than they are trying to throw at her. This whole thing is a waste of tax payer money. So rare it's not worth the debate, just sounds good for headlines and mouth frothing.

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    Elite Member Kat Scorp's Avatar
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    ^ She didn't get married to "sway" him; he didn't tell her he was married until she was eight months along. Then he tossed some money at her and left her crying hysterically in a parking lot. Hence, she snapped.
    Who was the first person to say, "See that chicken there? I'm gonna eat the next thing that comes outta its bum"?


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    So she says. Whatever she's not guilty of murder. Neither is the other one. The whole thing is stupid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk View Post
    So wait, if she went home and gave her baby rat poison because her boyfriend wouldn't leave his wife, it's ok? She's a victim of his sperm? She wanted the baby it seems because she thought it would sway the guy into coming with her. If she was that close to delivery she could have just given the baby up for adoption. She wasn't trapped. Obviously she was out of her mind and not criminal. As far as the drug charges go, if she was driving while doing drugs and killed a family she'd get less time than they are trying to throw at her. This whole thing is a waste of tax payer money. So rare it's not worth the debate, just sounds good for headlines and mouth frothing.
    As a woman I beg to differ. These things don't exist in a vacuum, it's all part of making a fetus a legal person, so abortion can be outlawed.
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    I meant from those trying to make it murder. It would be one thing if women were chronically having late term miscarriages due to an effort to "kill the baby" by ODing on drugs. Then I could understand them taking a look at this. But the number of babies killed by attempted but unsuccessful suicide are so rare it is not worth the debate or making a "case" of it. It's rare. Them doing this is just a way to try to push anti abortion legislation by creating precedence.

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    Elite Member stef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    As a woman I beg to differ. These things don't exist in a vacuum, it's all part of making a fetus a legal person, so abortion can be outlawed.
    bingo, and this is absolutely terrifying.


    from a legal point of view, somebody wrote in this thread before that if you kill a pregnant woman, you're then charged with two homicides. is this a federal law or does it vary from state to state? because in this case, the fetus would already have to be viewed as a legal person.
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    ^That was me. Fetal homicide statutes vary from state to state, but many do have them:

    Fetal Homicide State Laws

    Probably the most well-known case is Laci Peterson; her husband was convicted of two murders under California law. I thought the criteria was "viability outside the womb," since she was nearly full-term, but it seems that's not the criteria in all states.

    After the Peterson murder(s), a federal law was passed, the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act" which apparently specifically excludes abortion, but includes over 60 acts of violence and covers all stages of in utero development.

    Unborn Victims of Violence Act - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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