Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why, Indiana?

According to this, a woman in indiana was recently thrown in prison for murder. What was the dasatardly deed she committed? She tried to commit suicide. She was imprisoned? Well, little fact. She was pregnant. Bei Bei Shuai tried to kill herself around Christmastime last year when her boyfriend and the father of her baby went back on all his promises. He had promised to marry her, had told her he was divorced, only to later reveal that he was still married and that he intended to go back to his family. In a moment of recklessness, she bought rat poison and took it (didn't work). Later on, while driving through a friend's neighborhood, she ran into a friend and her husband and confided in them about her suicide attempt. They took her to the hospital and she received medical care. Unfortunately, while she recovered, her daughter died a day after she was born. Shuai was extremely distraught by this and spent a month in the hospital, grieving. She ended up going back to her life, only to find out that doctors had notified the authorities and that she would be charged with murder. People would say, well, she's selfish, she tried to kill herself while she was pregnant! However, here's a problem. Most people who commit suicide are not in the right frame of mind when they do so. As evidenced by Shuai's reaction, she wasn't even thinking of her pregnancy when she made an impulsive decision to take rat poison. Further, she ultimately chose to accept help, to save her life and the child's and it was under a doctor's advice that she took her daughter off life support. So, if a pregnant woman attempts suicide but decides to change her mind, that's when she should be charged? Also, I wonder how many of those same people would say that she should have had an abortion or at least gave up her rights as a parent if she was going to attempt to do so. This also disturbs me because it makes the assumption that pregnant women do not have the same rights as others and should be punished harshly for behaviors that others would merely be judged for. For example, if a woman is addicted to drugs, she could be charged with child endangerment in some states, even if she told a doctor out of request for help. As many rehab centers don't accept pregnant women, her treatment options are already limited and withdrawal may in some cases be more dangerous for her and the baby. In other states, lawmakers are trying to make it mandatory for women to report miscarriages to the cops, regardless of the fact that doctors themselves don't even know what causes them. These laws don't ultimately protect unborn children. What they do instead is to deter pregnant women from seeking medical treatment if they fear arrest. Women with drug problems won't seek treatment, women with suicidal tendencies may ultimately ending their own lives instead of seeking help, and women who lose their babies may not go to the hospital, even with complications. What these laws ultimately accomplish is turning pregnant women into second class citizens. As a result, both women and children pay the price.

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