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Outcry in America as pregnant women who lose babies face murder charges
Women's rights campaigners see the creeping criminalisation of pregnant women as a new front in the culture wars over abortion

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Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.

Gibbs 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.
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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.
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Amanda Kimbrough is one of the women who have been ensnared as a result of the law being applied in a wholly different way. During her pregnancy her foetus was diagnosed with possible Down's syndrome and doctors suggested she consider a termination, which Kimbrough declined as she is not in favour of abortion.

The baby was delivered by caesarean section prematurely in April 2008 and died 19 minutes after birth.

Six months later Kimbrough was arrested at home and charged with "chemical endangerment" of her unborn child on the grounds that she had taken drugs during the pregnancy – a claim she has denied.

"That shocked me, it really did," Kimbrough said. "I had lost a child, that was enough."

She now awaits an appeal ruling from the higher courts in Alabama, which if she loses will see her begin a 10-year sentence behind bars. "I'm just living one day at a time, looking after my three other kids," she said. "They say I'm a criminal, how do I answer that? I'm a good mother."
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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.

Has any married woman been charged with murder or prosecuted after losing an unborn or stillborn child or is it just unmarried "whores" who "should have kept their legs shut"? Rennie Gibbs is a teenager, obviously not married. Bei Bei Shuai had a boyfriend, not a husband. Amanda Kimbrough has three other children but there's no mention of a spouse. (She must really be a slut!) In fact, out of all the women and girls I have read about, I don't recall any of them being married. I also bet that these women and girls are also at the lower end of the income spectrum.

On the other hand, the married (and rich) Michele Bachmann has gotten nothing but sympathy over her miscarriage (and rightfully so), including from people who hate her. Since miscarriages and stillbirths are apparently the mother's fault, why aren't Bachmann's fellow forced birth activists demanding to know what she did to kill her baby? Are people supposed to believe that no married woman or woman with money does drugs, attempts suicide, or engages in any kind of behavior that the forced birth movement deems unsafe for a fetus?
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