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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Ind. Courts - "Charges in death of fetus should be dropped, experts say: Medical groups see danger in prosecuting woman who took poison while pregnant"

From Shari Rudavsky's story today in the Indianapolis Star:

When Bei Bei Shuai swallowed poison in December, she was focused on killing herself, not on the welfare of the fetus she was carrying. But Shuai survived her suicide attempt, and her fetus did not, leading the Marion County prosecutor's office to charge her with murder.

On Friday, national medical groups and local experts came out in her support, arguing the court should dismiss the charges.

A brief filed on behalf of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Women's Association and the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, among others, said prosecuting Shuai could set a dangerous precedent.

Specifically, it could dissuade pregnant women from seeking prenatal care if they felt they could be prosecuted for mistreating their fetus, said David Orentlicher, Samuel R. Rosen professor of law at the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis and co-author of the brief. * * *

The American Civil Liberties Union also has submitted a brief to the court, arguing that charging Shuai with a crime for attempting suicide is unconstitutional because a man or nonpregnant woman would not been charged for the same act. * * *

Shuai's attorney, Linda Pence, said carrying through with the case against Shuai could serve as a deterrent for other depressed pregnant women. After Shuai took the poison, she let two friends take her to the hospital, where her life was saved.

Many of the documents in this case are available on the ACLU website. Here is the ACLU Amicus Brief. Here is the American Women's Medical Ass'n. Amicus Brief. Here is Defendant's Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 2, 2011 01:15 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts