A New Miscarriage of Justice
Posted on Jun 25, 2011
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
[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.
Flickr / Johnath