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5.24.2012

bei bei shuai, arrested for attempting to commit suicide while pregnant, is out on bail

This week in Indianapolis, a woman who was arrested and charged with murder for attempting to take her own life while pregnant was released from jail on bail: Woman Who Tried To Commit Suicide While Pregnant Gets Bail.

Bei Bei Shuai is facing murder and feticide charges for ingesting rat poison in December 2010, when she was 33 weeks pregnant. She survived and gave birth to the baby, but the child died three days later.

The case has received national attention, mobilizing women's rights and abortion rights advocates, who say the case against Shuai could set a dangerous precedent for the prosecution of pregnant women whose infants die:
At issue are laws - now in force at both the federal level and in at least 36 states - that make it a crime to cause death or injury to a fetus. The idea driving passage of these measures was to recognize a second victim in crimes against a pregnant woman. In fact, the federal law is technically known as "Laci and Connor's law," in recognition of the murder of the pregnant Laci Peterson, a much-publicized crime in California in 2002.

"These laws were passed by the legislature to protect women from third-party violence, not to be used against women themselves," Emma Ketteringham, one of Shuai's lawyers, said, in a media briefing.

But the Indiana Court of Appeals didn't agree. In a 2-1 decision in February, the court, said Ketteringham, "made it quite clear that pregnant women are no different than third parties when it comes to their pregnancies."

Then last week, the Indiana Supreme Court refused to consider the case, letting the Appeals Court ruling stand. The Supreme Court, however, did order the bond hearing, which resulted in today's ruling.
I don't have much to offer in the way of analysis. The facts of the case aren't in dispute, and what happened was a tragedy. But what this woman needs assistance -- not jail time. Shaui is scheduled to face trial on December 2. More here: Bei Bei Shuai 'happy' for release from jail.