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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ind. Decisions - "Bei Bei Shuai is at the sharp end of the creeping criminalisation of pregnancy across America."

That is a quote from a very long story today in The Guardian, written by Ed Pilkington. The story has an Indianapolis byline, meaning the reporter was here in town to prepare it. Some quotes:

Bei Bei Shuai is at the sharp end of the creeping criminalisation of pregnancy across America. Women who lose their unborn babies – whether in cases of maternal drug addiction or in Shuai's case a failed suicide attempt – are increasingly finding themselves accused of murder.

Speaking publicly for the first time, Shuai told the Guardian she is determined to defend herself as she prepares for a murder trial scheduled for December. "I have a strong desire to stay in America," she said, three days after she had been released from jail on $50,000 bail. "I want to stay and fight this case. I have the best legal team, and I'm not afraid anymore to face the charges." * * *

"There is no doubt that Shuai was suffering from a severe mental illness," her defence lawyer Linda Pence said. She first met the defendant when she was in the mental wing, a few days after Angel died. "I personally observed a very depressed woman, a grief-stricken individual."

That is not how the prosecutor saw it. For the first time in Indiana's 196-year history, the state has applied felony charges against a woman that hold Shuai criminally liable for the outcome of her pregnancy. Earlier this month the Indiana supreme court declined to hear the case, rendering a 3 December murder trial almost inevitable.

Lawyers and women's advocates in Indiana were astonished by the prosecution's hard line. To attempt to take one's own life is not a crime in Indiana, so the decision to charge a pregnant woman appeared to be creating a double standard.

The feticide law, introduced in Indiana in 1979, was designed with violent third parties in mind: abusive boyfriends or husbands who attacked their pregnant partners, causing them to lose their unborn babies. It was enhanced to carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in 2007 after a bank robbery in which a pregnant woman was shot in the stomach, killing her fetus but leaving her alive.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 30, 2012 02:07 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions