-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
On December 23, 2010, Bei Bei Shuai, a 34 year old pregnant woman who was suffering from depression, attempted suicide, which in Indiana is not a crime. Friends found her in time and persuaded her to go to the hospital and get help. Six days later, the baby was delivered, prematurely, by cesarean section and four days after that the newborn girl died.
On March 14, 2011, the State of Indiana arrested Shuai, jailed her, and charged her with murder and attempted feticide.
This case raises serious concerns about violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Had Shuai not been pregnant, she would not have been charged with any crime. Do pregnant women have the same rights as non-pregnant women?
If this case is allowed to stand, any pregnant woman who puts her own life or heath at risk, can be criminally prosecuted. A pregnant woman with a pre-existing medical condition, that poses a threat to her health during pregnancy, could be charged with murder if she miscarries or attempted feticide if she carries to term. A pregnant woman with a dangerous job also subjects her fetus to the same danger she faces.
There have been numerous cases wherein states have tried to use child abuse laws and child endangerment laws to prosecute women who had substance abuse problems during their pregnancy. These cases have been dismissed. These cases waste precious taxpayer monies, however, they do garner a lot of publicity for the prosecuting attorneys.
Ambitious prosecutors are using these kind of cases to further their political careers, at the expense of the women they target.