Women In The US Are Being Jailed For Having Miscarriages

Women In The US Are Being Jailed For Having Miscarriages

Living in the USA is no more safer for pregnant women than it is anywhere else. Students and professionals find themselves thrown in jail cells for having miscarriages.

This October, a pregnant woman was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for the first-degree manslaughter of her unborn child.

When she arrived at the hospital seeking treatment, Brittney Poolaw admitted to taking illicit drugs while pregnant.

The lead examiner determined genetic anomaly, placenta abruption or maternal methamphetamine use could have been contributing factors behind the miscarriage.

Poolaw’s lawyers say they will appeal for her conviction. The prosecutor who brought her case to court has declined to comment as proceedings continue.

Nevertheless, the story of Poolaw is just the tip of the iceberg with Dana Sussman from NAPW saying that this is just one out of many miscarriages that have been treated with extreme legal repercussions in the United States.

Case in point: an investigation by advocacy organisation the ACLU showed that from 1973 to 2005, around 600 women were arrested for having miscarriages.

United States of America advocates for people’s rights to make their own healthcare decisions without interference from the police.

Although women of colour are overrepresented, women that fall down or give birth at home are also arrested for miscarriages.

A new study illuminates the startling rise in miscarriages filed as crimes. A “uniquely American phenomenon” at the crossroads of America’s War on Drugs and the personhood movement.

Why are laws failing to safeguard women?

With drug use while pregnant being punishable by law in 23 states, the miscarriage charges are concerning.

In half of all US states, healthcare professionals report pregnant women suspected of using drugs.

Eight states, including Alabama, made it illegal to terminate a pregnancy after the fetus was recognized as viable. ProPublica has recognized over 500 women charged in the decade following this law.

In response to the trend of miscarriages regarded as a criminal act, an inquiry is currently underway to investigate why.

At least 38 states implement “foetal assault laws” which, in some cases, can result in the prosecution of pregnant women who have miscarriages.

It has come to light that at least 38 states implement “foetal assault laws” which, in some cases, can result in the prosecution of pregnant women who have miscarriages.

These laws intend to help punish abusers who harm pregnant women. Spurred by a 2004 federal law passed after the murder of Laci Peterson, who was pregnant, by her husband. Orders to police issued after that day created National Child Protection Week. It provided training for officers to locate at-risk expectant mothers before birth.

Although many of these laws are ambiguous, they leave the door open for prosecutors to charge women who may have influenced miscarriage or stillbirth with, say, smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

Dark Future Ahead

If Poolaw had an abortion, she would not be charged as abortion is legal in Oklahoma.

However, what about those countries that do not allow abortions and can arrest or charge women with murder if their pregnancies end by miscarriage?

Manuela was sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing her unborn child.

Manuela was sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing her unborn child in El Salvador. She was arrested when she went to the hospital for her miscarriage. After four years of confinement, Manuela died in jail in 2010.

Read: Black women are four times more likely to die in pregnancy than white women in the UK

Emma Milne, a legal scholar of gender and crime who teaches at Durham University in the UK, argues that the root of these cases is the idea that “women, once they become mothers, should put their pregnancies first.”

With abortion, the reality is far more complex. Often women are desperate and vulnerable, needing help and support.

US medical associations oppose classifying drug use during pregnancy as child abuse.

The US doctors’ association argues that addiction to drugs should be treated as a medical decision — not a criminal offence.

Women’s rights advocacy group argues such laws take away pregnant women autonomy.


Source: News Agencies
Featured Image: STATE OF OKLAHOMA

Related Article: Poles protest against strict abortion law after pregnant woman dies

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