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I don’t even know where to begin here.  War on women?  Personhood rights for the unborn? Criminalization of drug use and how it’s not getting us anywhere?  The prison pipeline?  This piece from Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones has it all:

On March 14, 2009, 31 weeks into her pregnancy, Nina Buckhalter gave birth to a stillborn baby girl. She named the child Hayley Jade. Two months later, a grand jury in Lamar County, Mississippi, indicted Buckhalter for manslaughter, claiming that the then-29-year-old woman “did willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, kill Hayley Jade Buckhalter, a human being, by culpable negligence.”

The district attorney argued that methamphetamine detected in Buckhalter’s system caused Hayley Jade’s death. The state Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case on April 2, is expected to rule soon on whether the prosecution can move forward.

It’s not enough that she’s lost a child.  It’s not enough that she has battled her demons – according to the article Buckhalter has since gotten clean, gotten an education and had a healthy baby.  No, by all means, let’s prosecute her.  Because then, justice will be served….um.

If Mississippi succeeds here, will they require doctors to report every miscarriage to authorities?  What about the doctor/patient relationship?  Will the confidentiality of that relationship only apply to men now?

Does Mississippi have a contract with a private prison system?  Do they need to ensure more people in the prison pipeline?

Perhaps the most perverse impact of prosecuting Buckhalter, her lawyers say, is that it could lead to more abortions. Fear of prosecution “may cause a mother to seek an abortion that she might not have otherwise have sought,” particularly if she is dealing with drug or alcohol addiction, Buckhalter’s lawyers argued in a court filing.

A dozen medical and public health groups—including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists—made the same argument in a friend-of-the-court brief submitted in the Buckhalter case. And even for women who want to continue their pregnancy, the medical groups contended, the threat of prosecution could actually deter them from seeking prenatal care or drug addiction treatment, or from sharing important information with their doctors, for fear they may be reported.

I think people can be aggravated about the fact of abortion.  I have come to a place in my life where I could’t imagine having one.  But I am not so willing to unilaterally say that I know what’s best for every woman, every family, in every situation that might arise.  This push by Mississippi is just one more way to take away a woman’s right to choose.

Mother Jones: Mississippi Could Soon Jail Women for Stillbirths, Miscarriages 

About The Author

Heidi Hernandez Gatty is the Principal at Small Brown Girl Consulting where her practice focuses on issues of Art & Social Justice, Economic Justice, and Democratic Participation. Through her practice, she helps individuals and communities manifest their visions into tangible realities.

One comment

  1. When we try dictate morality through the criminal justice system. How can the results be anything but sad?

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