Pregnant Woman Attempts Suicide; Survives; Now In Jail Facing Feticide And Murder Charges
Bei Bei Shuai tried to kill herself when she was 33 weeks pregnant by taking rat poison. The Indiana woman survived, but her child, born alive, died after being taken off life support. Then the state stepped in and charged her with attempted murder and feticide. And now a judge is to decide if she’ll be released on bail.
Medical groups have unanimously railed against the state’s actions as being punitive and counter to public health goals, since they may deter at-risk women from seeking care. And the American Civil Liberties Union argues the charges are unconstitutional: “If a woman can be criminally prosecuted for those acts or omissions (or medical conditions) that pose a threat to her health while pregnant, then the state’s control over her life would be limitless,” says the group’s amicus brief.
But the state of Indiana is not persuaded by such arguments. And based on the emotional testimony of Shaui’s friend Sui Mak at a bail hearing last week, you might wonder if the prosecutor has a shred of compassion, let alone an understanding of criminal justice.
Jennifer Block at The Daily Beast puts it in perspective:
Marion Country Chief Trial Deputy David Rimstidt defended his office’s actions. “She attempted suicide and that resulted in the death of a fetus that was born and lived for a few days and then died,” he said. “So she’s being charged with the crime against the viable fetus, and the child that was born, and not against herself.” The last statement explains why she was charged with both attempted feticide and murder.
Holding a woman criminally liable for the outcome of her pregnancy is a radical interpretation of the law, legal experts told The Daily Beast. “Indiana does not prosecute people for attempted suicide,” said Indiana University law professor, medical doctor, and former state representative David Orentlicher. “So now this prosecutor is saying, ‘If you’re suicidal, you better not get pregnant, because you might get thrown in jail.’ That to me is a very important constitutional problem.”Click here for reuse options!
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