As national elected officials clash over access to contraception, a criminal case in Indianapolis also illustrates the price that women can pay for the politicization of reproduction.
In December 2010, Bei Bei Shuai was pregnant and living with her partner, the father-to-be of the child. Instead of marrying her as he had promised, the partner disclosed that he was married to someone else and was ending his relationship with Ms. Shuai. Driven to despair and believing herself worthless and blameworthy, she attempted suicide by swallowing rat poison. Fortunately, friends found her and took her to the hospital. Doctors were able to save her life, and they delivered her 33-week old fetus by cesarean section. Unfortunately, the baby survived for only a few days before dying.
In most cities in this country, Ms. Shuai would have received the mental health care that she needs. In Indianapolis, the prosecutor has described her as a “cold-blooded” killer and filed murder charges that carry a minimum sentence of 45 years, with the possibility of a death sentence or life in prison without parole.
After nearly 11 months of jail time for Ms. Shuai, the Indiana Court of Appeals has paved the way for her to be released on bail. However, the court declined to dismiss the murder charge.
(I co-authored an amicus brief on behalf of medical organizations and health care professionals supporting Ms. Shuai.)