Posts Tagged “chemical endangerment law”

Across the US, more and more prosecutions are being brought against women who lose their babies. Photograph: Alamy / The GuardianAmong the Right’s many mantras is a steady drone of whining about what they call “judicial activism” and the related “legal activism.” This is their term for when a judge issues a ruling, or a lawsuit is filed, with which they subjectively disagree. They’re essentially accusing the judges and/or lawyers of basing their decisions and actions not on the facts of the cases or on the law, but on their own personal beliefs. They just can’t abide the idea that, sometimes, their own beliefs aren’t borne out by circumstance or the law.

Even so, the Right — particularly the Religious Right — is nonetheless guilty of its own forms of legal activism. The (UK) Guardian reports on one of these, the practice of prosecuting women who’ve lost their babies (WebCite cached article):

[Rennie] Gibbs [of Mississippi] became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death — they charged her with the “depraved-heart murder” of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

Before you assume this is just an an isolated case, read on and find out about more of them:

Bei Bei Shuai, 34, has spent the past three months in a prison cell in Indianapolis charged with murdering her baby. On 23 December she tried to commit suicide by taking rat poison after her boyfriend abandoned her.

Shuai was rushed to hospital and survived, but she was 33 weeks pregnant and her baby, to whom she gave birth a week after the suicide attempt and whom she called Angel, died after four days. In March Shuai was charged with murder and attempted foeticide and she has been in custody since without the offer of bail.

In Alabama at least 40 cases have been brought under the state’s “chemical endangerment” law. Introduced in 2006, the statute was designed to protect children whose parents were cooking methamphetamine in the home and thus putting their children at risk from inhaling the fumes.

The militant Rightist prosecutors have used laws against women, which ostensibly had been intended to help them:

At least 38 of the 50 states across America have introduced foetal homicide laws that were intended to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from violent attacks by third parties — usually abusive male partners — but are increasingly being turned by renegade prosecutors against the women themselves.

South Carolina was one of the first states to introduce such a foetal homicide law. National Advocates for Pregnant Women has found only one case of a South Carolina man who assaulted a pregnant woman having been charged under its terms, and his conviction was eventually overturned. Yet the group estimates there have been up to 300 women arrested for their actions during pregnancy.

Using laws for a purpose other than their stated intention, in order to bring retribution against people for doing things that prosecutors personally disapprove of, is the very same kind of legal activism the Right sees in the Left and kvetches about. Those Rightists who engage in this practice, therefore, are hypocrites of the highest order. Those among them who are Christian — and I assume all of them are — are directly disobeying the clear and unambiguous instructions of the founder of their religion.

Photo credit: Alamy / The Guardian.

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