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A New Miscarriage of Justice

Posted on Jun 25, 2011
Flickr / Johnath

Conservative prosecutors across the U.S. are attempting to hold mothers who have lost their children—both born and unborn—accountable for the tragic, unintended outcomes of their pregnancies.

The women mentioned in the article below—one of whom is facing a life sentence—are being charged with the murder of their newborn or unborn children for drug use or suicide attempts. Robert McDuff, a Mississippi civil rights lawyer, leveled a sensible counterargument: “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?” Prosecutors in the same state are attempting to legitimize their charges in part by claiming personhood begins at the moment of conception. —ARK

The Guardian:

[Rennie] 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’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.

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By LaurenMN, July 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment
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Johnnyfarout YOU ROCK!

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By Inherit The Wind, June 26, 2011 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment

diamond, June 26 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, well you know what Bernie Franks said? “The Republican party believes life begins at conception and ends at birth.” Once you’re born they don’t give a tinker’s curse what happens to you, but as long as you’re in the womb they can use you for political purposes. This is just more of their insanity: proof for anyone who still needs it that these people are barking mad.

For once we agree.  I say that ANYONE who opposes a woman’s RIGHT to an abortion but hasn’t adopted an unwanted child should be made to STFU!

A RIGHT isn’t granted. It’s inherent in being human.  That’s what the 9th Amendment says.

There’s a really easy way to end all but medical abortions: Make sure there are no unwanted pregnancies.  But to do that you MUST advocate birth control and family planning.

And that sure-fire solution is EXACTLY what the anti-abortionists DON’T want!

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By diamond, June 26, 2011 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, well you know what Bernie Franks said? “The Republican party believes life begins at conception and ends at birth.” Once you’re born they don’t give a tinker’s curse what happens to you, but as long as you’re in the womb they can use you for political purposes. This is just more of their insanity: proof for anyone who still needs it that these people are barking mad.

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By Shenonymous, June 26, 2011 at 11:47 am Link to this comment

Could you be talking about Bristol Palin, johnnyfarout? 
Isn’t it interesting how the whole thing is euphemized?  Rich kids
don’t have the same problems with pregnancies out of wedlock as
po’ kids do.

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By johnnyfarout, June 26, 2011 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

Perhaps the laws these characters are writing need an addendum. That any woman who becomes pregnant due the efforts of a man, and then that woman experiences any negative changes in her life, from economic to psychological, all the way through to these tragic miscarriages…or an abortion due to the woman waking up to the fact of the inadequacy of the man in the picture, or about how inadequate society is for supporting her and the baby,…or how the man who caused her to get pregnant gave no thought to her and a possible baby’s welfare: this man needs to be held accountable by serving in the adjoining cell, or on death row, if that’s the vision these revengistas have in mind. This blind righteousness should land in the man’s lap, since all they can see is the fault of the woman, it must be shown through the termination problems, and all the pain, that it takes two to tango in the eyes of god and society. I wonder then how much sense these stupid legislators would see in their backwards law-making. If one of their daughters gets pregnant…make her father bear the brunt of not educating her, or the men in her life, or of making society into a place prepared for all the glorious righteous marketplace freedoms these nincompoops can’t seem to handle. Put a cop in every bedroom, chewing tobacco and cleaning his gun, and a preacher-man with appropriate scowling disapproval, clutching his fiery King James…yep, that’s what they need to legislate to stay on the righteous straight and narrow. This way they can work towards full employment: half the people will be in jails and the other half will be watching them. I wonder then how things will go for them when they stand before Jesus at the Pearly Gates.

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By bogi666, June 26, 2011 at 6:33 am Link to this comment
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The insanity of including the unborn into a criminal justice system that cannot even operate functionally for the already born is absurd. What if an inlaw decides that a miscarriage is murder and reports the murder to authorities. Autopsies of the unborn, how crazy is this. What if someone accuses someone else of murdering an unborn fetus sometime in the past. Murder, having no statute of limitations, without a body and/or medical prognosis may no longer exist. What if someone goes to another country for abortion, would the person be charged with a crime? No body, no evidence?

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By Shenonymous, June 26, 2011 at 3:33 am Link to this comment

All comments so far have put this burlesque of justice in the
correct perspective.  The word needs to be got out that women
need to stop being baby factories, need to fight for their natural
right to the ownership of their own bodies, and need to fight the
graven Republican crushing juggernaut that continues to steamroller
those of common means for every reason that would put and keep
more power in their hands.  Women have been on their list to
suppress and keep enslaved since embracing religious domination
which functions to strengthen their entire effort to command this

This is a country of ordinary people and the ordinary people need to be
encouraged to fight back with every ounce of energy had by those who
see the coercion the Republicans are bringing to bear on them.  Women
have been desecrated as human beings from time immemorial and it is
time to bring it to a screeching halt!

The issue of abortion is only the tip of the iceberg, and the women’s
movement for full equality is only getting started.  Ignorant men and
repressive religion need to brace themselves.  It is going to be a
different world.

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By Jeff, June 26, 2011 at 1:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

mind your own uterus

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By Lisa, June 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Someone should check if the Mississipi prosecutors’ mommas had a few too many
nips of moonshine while pregnant. Maybe that could explain what’s wrong with them.

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By purplewolf, June 25, 2011 at 8:37 pm Link to this comment

TDoff: better yet, go after God as a mass murderer as he claims, according to the Bible, to have destroyed all the animals and humans, with the exception of Noah and his progeny, as they were all evil and had to be destroyed.

This is nothing new. This past Feb. 2011, Repukelican from Georgia, Bobby Franklin also introduced H.B.1. Under this bill, women who miscarry would become felons if they cannot prove there was “NO human involvement whatsoever in the causation ” of their miscarriage. There is no clarification of what “human involvement” means and this is a huge problem as medical doctors do not exactly know what causes miscarriages.Miscarriages are estimated to terminate up to 25% of all pregnancies and according to the Mayo Clinic the actual number is probably much higher because so many miscarriages happen so early in pregnancy that a woman doesn’t even know she is pregnant. Most miscarriages occur because the fetus is defective.

Now Mr. Franklin wants this crime, which he calls fetal homicide, to be punishable by death of the mother who just had a miscarriage. And since his requirement of having the woman prove there was “no human involvement” of the miscarriage, this really means all women should be put to death who miscarry according to Bobby Franklin. Because a woman who does miscarry does have human involvement by simply being pregnant. He also wants this investigated by the local police-many places are short on police for real crimes now, or the FBI could also investigate.

As the repugs have introduced over 1,000 anti-abortion,anti-woman,anti-medical coverage for pregnant women, it seems ironic that they come up with idiotic bills like this.Some even want to punish the mother if she gives birth to a defective baby, even when these same politicians force that pregnancy to birth.

Is this what all the FEMA camps were built for, to house pregnant women and punish them accordingly to the whims of the republican parties insane rules?

Time for all woman of reproductive years to close up shop and refuse to become baby factories. By getting pregnant, you literally are putting your very life into jeopardy.

Thank you repugs for smaller government.

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By TDoff, June 25, 2011 at 4:47 pm Link to this comment

How come these CrazyChristian EvangelicalFundamentalist BornAgainBoob prosecutors, who profess to believe in, and follow ‘god’, don’t arrest and prosecute ‘him’, who created everything that is, ever was, and ever will be, for the loss of these fetuses and babies?

After all, if ‘he’ didn’t want this to happen, ‘he’ could sure stop it, couldn’t ‘he’?

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By berniem, June 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

Doesn’t this sorry and disgusting story reinforce the fact that the confederate states do not belong as part of this nation? This 3rd world atrocity should be cut loose and left to putrify in its own bile and bigoted maddness, amen jebbus!

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By gstoddard, June 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment

In the black and white world of fundamentalists you are either good or bad.
There is no room in the the fundamentalist world for understanding human
complexity or compassion. The core message of Jesus is lost on these people.

As the nation turns further to the right we are increasing the criminalization of
drug use and mental illness and this is just the latest manifestation of that

I am reminded of a book I read years ago, “The Origin of Satan”, in which Satan
is shown to be a creation of the human mind used to demonize our enemies
and those with whom we disagree.

Satan becomes the evil other against which we can place ourselves as the
embodiment of righteousness. In the process we lose any sense of humility or
awareness of our own imperfectness.

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By Inherit The Wind, June 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

Let me guess:
The State of Mississippi is charging a BLACK woman with “murder” for her still-born child.

Just checked. Yup. Rennie Gibbs is a Black woman. 

If you don’t believe this charge is racially based, you are a damned fool.

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