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Is a pregnant woman's attempted suicide, murder?
This tragedy takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana. 34 year old and 33 week pregnant, Bei Bei Shuai attempted suicide by ingesting rat poison, after her boyfriend ended their relationship. He reportedly left her in the parking lot, on her knees and crying after an argument. She went to a hardware store nearby where she bought the poison.
After the attempt was unsuccessful, she gave birth to her baby girl, Angel Shuai on December 31, 2010. The infant was taken off life support, and spent hours being rocked by her distraught mother before passing away, January 3, 2011. The autopsy indicated the baby died from a brain hemorrhage as a direct result of the motherís ingestion of poison.
Bei Bei Shuai, is from China and co owns a small restaurant in Indianapolis. She has no family in the United States.
She has been charged with murder and attempted feticide. The court has entered a not guilty plea, and the medical community at IU agrees that charges should be dropped. Professors at the Indiana University School of law and school of medicine believe that the charges are inappropriate.
Their request to drop the charges includes an 11-page letter that represents the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women's groups, and other supporters.
Regardless of the charges, it is looking more and more like it will be difficult to convict her on them.
First, it is not against the law to commit suicide. We are all in control of our own bodies, and no one has the right to take that away from us. She was in a severely distraught state, and anyone who has ever seriously considered taking his or her own life, knows that you cannot think of or see anything past your own pain.
I do not believe she was able to consider her unborn baby at the time. I understand those who feel that she should have, but we are not dealing with rationality. Whether she should have considered her child is irrelevant because in her state she could not. Sending her to prison will not change that, and it will not get her the care she needs.
I truly feel that every moment since she took the poison, she has been punished to the fullest extreme.
It is also more likely that the law will side with the defense in this case. Pregnant women have common law immunity in any attempts they make to harm themselves. If there was not such a law, our prisons would be filled with women who had drank, done drugs, smoked cigarettes, rode a rollercoaster, or sat in hot tubs while pregnant.
The feticide law is in place for pregnant women whose unborn children are killed during other crimes such as shootings, or robberies. It was not written for cases of attempted suicide.
I see both arguments, and feel grief as a mother, a woman, and a sufferer of severe depression. That said I do not see prison as being the right consequence for this womanís actions.
I am open to my readerís viewpoints and discussions, both directly to me via my bio page and in my pro choice forum. If this case progresses further, I will update in a future article.
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