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Friday, May 11, 2012

Ind. Decisions - More on: Supreme Court denies Bei Bei Shuai transfer petition

The Supreme Court has let the Court of Appeals opinion stand in the Bei Bei Shuai case. Updating this entry from earlier today, here is a much longer version of Charles Wilson's AP report, with reactions. I'm told there is another version, quoting Dr. David Orentlicher, who wrote one of the amicus briefs - I'll watch for it. From the current version:

The Indiana Supreme Court on Friday declined to drop murder and feticide charges against a woman who ate rat poison while she was pregnant in a case that medical and women's rights groups warn could have larger repercussions.

However, the court's unanimous ruling does allow Bei Bei Shuai to be released on bond, which is rare in murder cases. * * *

Defense attorneys argued in court documents filed March 9 that prosecuting a woman based on the outcome of her pregnancy violates constitutional rights to due process and equal treatment and is cruel and unusual punishment.

Shuai, 34, lost her bid to have the charges against her dropped when Indiana's highest court declined to hear her appeal. Friday's order let stand a February Indiana Court of Appeals ruling that ordered a Marion County judge to set bond. Shuai was charged in March 2011 and has been jailed since.

Shuai's attorney, Linda Pence, said she was "devastated" that the high court declined to hear the case. "It's horrible. She shouldn't be in jail. She should never have been in jail in the first place," Pence said. * * *

Several medical and women's rights groups, including the National Organization for Women and the National Alliance for Mental Illness, have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of Shuai, claiming that prosecuting Shuai could set a precedent under which pregnant women could be prosecuted for smoking or other behavior that might deemed a danger to their fetus. They said that could discourage women from seeking prenatal care.

Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the New York-based National Advocates for Pregnant Women, said Indiana courts have ignored 80 organizations and experts who have warned that allowing the case to go forward is "bad for mothers and babies." An attorney from Paltrow's group is helping defend Shuai.

"The message is ... if you suffer a pregnancy loss or do anything an outsider thinks could be harming your pregnancy, you could be charged with a crime and put on trial," Paltrow said. * * *

The Indiana Court of Appeals in February ordered a judge to set bond for Shuai, saying her defense attorneys presented sufficient evidence to rebut the murder and feticide charges. But the three-judge panel declined to dismiss the case, saying Shuai had not proven that common-law immunity exists for pregnant women who harm their own fetuses.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 11, 2012 03:07 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions