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An African American Woman Faced Charges After Suffering a Miscarriage, Highlighting Post-Roe Pregnancy Risks

by Chloe Baker
4 comments
Post-Roe miscarriage legal issues

In the midst of a heated debate over abortion in Ohio, Brittany Watts experienced a distressing medical emergency at 21 weeks and 5 days into her pregnancy. The 33-year-old had kept her pregnancy a secret, even from her family, until her first prenatal check-up at a clinic near Mercy Health-St. Joseph’s Hospital in Warren, a working-class city southeast of Cleveland.

During this visit, the physician noted a fetal heartbeat but informed Watts that her amniotic fluid had prematurely leaked, and the fetus would not survive. He suggested inducing labor at the hospital, effectively a medical abortion, to avoid severe health risks to Watts.

However, what unfolded over the next three days was traumatic: repeated hospital visits, a miscarriage at home, and subsequent police investigation. Watts, an African American woman, found herself charged with abuse of a corpse, a serious legal accusation.

Her case, which was recently presented to a grand jury, has ignited nationwide debate, particularly regarding the treatment of pregnant women, especially African American women, following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that reversed Roe v. Wade. Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump brought attention to Watts’ situation on X (formerly Twitter), leading to significant support for her through donations for legal and medical expenses.

This incident raises questions about the criminalization of pregnancy outcomes post-Dobbs. Grace Howard, an assistant professor at San José State University, emphasizes the absence of legal protections for unintentional pregnancy harm since the overturning of Roe. Michele Goodwin, a law professor, points out the disproportionate targeting of Black and brown women in such cases.

The case also reflects broader issues regarding abortion rights and healthcare decision-making in the current legal landscape. The specifics of Watts’ situation, including her miscarriage coinciding with Ohio’s legal abortion cutoff and hospital delays due to legal concerns, highlight the complexities healthcare providers face in post-Dobbs America.

Brittany Watts’ story is not just about a legal charge; it’s about the broader implications for women’s rights and healthcare in a post-Roe America, where legal clarity and healthcare decisions intersect with deeply personal and often traumatic experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Post-Roe miscarriage case

Who is Brittany Watts and what happened to her?

Brittany Watts is a 33-year-old African American woman from Ohio who faced legal charges after suffering a miscarriage at 21 weeks and 5 days into her pregnancy. Despite a doctor’s warning of the non-viability of the fetus and the risk to her own life, Watts miscarried at home and was subsequently charged with abuse of a corpse, sparking a national debate on the treatment of pregnant women post-Roe v. Wade.

What legal charges did Brittany Watts face and why?

Watts was charged with abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony in Ohio, after she miscarried at home and the fetus was found in her plumbing system. This charge was brought against her under the backdrop of the recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, leading to heightened scrutiny and legal challenges for pregnant women experiencing miscarriages.

How has Brittany Watts’ case affected the national conversation on abortion and miscarriage?

Watts’ case has ignited a national firestorm over the treatment of pregnant women, particularly African American women, in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. It highlights the legal and societal challenges faced by women in similar situations and raises questions about the criminalization of pregnancy outcomes and the rights of women post-Roe.

What is the significance of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in relation to Watts’ case?

The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, removed the federal protection for abortion, leading to a legal environment where unintentional harm to pregnancies could be criminalized. This decision directly impacts cases like that of Brittany Watts, where miscarriages are subject to legal scrutiny and potential criminal charges.

What broader issues does Brittany Watts’ case highlight?

Watts’ case brings to light several broader issues, including the legal treatment of miscarriage, the impact of abortion laws on healthcare decision-making, and the disproportionate targeting of Black and brown women in pregnancy-related legal matters. It underscores the need for clarity and fairness in the legal system regarding women’s reproductive health and rights.

More about Post-Roe miscarriage case

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4 comments

Mike Johnson December 16, 2023 - 3:32 pm

Wow, just read about Brittany Watts’ case, it’s really a tough situation. Can’t believe how complicated things are post-Roe, especially for women…

Reply
SarahL December 16, 2023 - 4:23 pm

I’m not sure I agree with all of this, seems like there’s more to the story? But it’s definitely an eye-opener about the state of women’s rights today.

Reply
EmmaG December 16, 2023 - 7:29 pm

honestly didn’t know much about the Dobbs decision till now, but this article really puts things into perspective. It’s a complex issue for sure.

Reply
Dave K December 16, 2023 - 9:49 pm

It’s so sad to see how black women are often the hardest hit in these situations, the justice system really needs to do better.

Reply

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