Jailing women who try to commit suicide

Bei Bei Shuai tried to kill herself with rat poison last year. She survived. But she was pregnant, and her fetus died. Now she’s being charged with murder and attempted feticide.

Shaui’s downward spiral began in late December, when her boyfriend blindsided her. It turned out the man who had fathered her baby and promised to marry her, and with whom she’d recently opened a restaurant, wasn’t going to follow through on any of his promises. He was married to someone else—not divorced, as he’d told Shuai—with two children. And perhaps lacking vision or a spine, he decided he didn’t want to give up his estranged family to start a new one. He left Shuai, sobbing on her knees, alone in a parking lot.

When Shuai looked up, she saw a hardware store, walked in and bought rat poison. She went back to her apartment in Indianapolis and ate the pellets. But she was surprised when they didn’t immediately kill her. Frustrated, she got back in her car and drove northeast to Anderson, where several close friends live, though she didn’t go to any of them. Instead, she went to a gas station, where by chance, Sui Mak’s husband, Bing, spotted her. She was puffy-eyed, pale, out of sorts. He convinced her to drive straight to their home and have a meal. Finally, she confided about the rat poison. They coaxed her into the car and drove her to the hospital.

Shuai spent Christmas on the maternity ward at Methodist hospital in Indianapolis. On New Year’s Eve, doctors decided a cesarean was necessary. The Maks’ 14-year-old daughter named the baby girl: Angel. Everyone expected mother and child to make a full recovery, but after the delivery, Angel started to decline. The hospital asked Shuai to sign forms allowing blood transfusions and procedures. On January 2nd, doctors asked her permission to take the newborn off life support. At that point, law enforcement was notified.

The prospect of her baby’s death led to a second breakdown, according to Mak’s testimony, which was relayed by Shuai’s attorney, Linda Pence. “She was fainting and crying, fainting and crying, drifting in and out of sleep. She was completely unstable.” But that evening, with the help of her friends, she decided to take Angel off life support. Shuai “held the baby for five hours straight until she died in her arms,” said Pence. ‘The whole time Bei Bei was crying and screaming, ‘Why couldn’t I die? Why did they have to take my baby?’”

Shuai spent the next month on the hospital’s psych ward, recovering and grieving. By March, she had resumed running her restaurant. That’s when the state locked her up.

Prosecuting a pregnant woman for attempted suicide is an extreme interpretation of the law, and puts pregnant women in a special class — men and women who aren’t pregnant are never prosecuted for trying to kill themselves.

“Indiana does not prosecute people for attempted suicide,” said Indiana University law professor, medical doctor, and former state representative David Orentlicher. “So now this prosecutor is saying, ‘If you’re suicidal, you better not get pregnant, because you might get thrown in jail.’ That to me is a very important constitutional problem.”

And it’s a very scary proposition, though it isn’t new. Women have been prosecuted for child abuse or feticide when they miscarry; pregnant women who are addicted to drugs have been charged with trafficking drugs to minors; and pregnant women have been forced to deliver via cesarean section under court order. Some states also require doctors to report if a pregnant woman is taking drugs — a law which sounds reasonable on its face, until you think through the logical outcome: Women who are addicted to drugs just won’t seek medical care, which means they won’t get treatment for their addictions and won’t get basic pre-natal care. Cases like this one present the same issue for women with mental health problems — if you’re pregnant and contemplating suicide but talking to a doctor means you might get thrown in jail, you aren’t going to seek help.

It seems obvious that the endgame of this fetus movement is to recriminalize abortion, and these are the grounds on which pro-choice groups oppose such laws. But Paltrow argues that it’s a mistake to think in such narrow terms—that doing so “has ignored how these laws would be used to hurt pregnant women themselves.” Feticide laws are used “as a legal basis to deprive women of their personhood,” she said. “It’s not just reproductive rights. It’s not just the right to privacy. It gives the state authority to say that, while other human beings will have health problems that will be treated through a compassionate health-care response, pregnant women alone will be imprisoned without bail for not being able to guarantee the outcome of their pregnancy.”

All of which makes the state of Indiana—and Alabama, Texas, South Carolina, and some 30 other states with feticide laws—seem cruel if not unusual for imprisoning a woman who happened to be pregnant when she tried to kill herself. I posed this notion to Marion County’s Rimstidt, but he didn’t get it: “You mean the fact that she killed her baby with rat poison is cruel?”

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Crime, Disability Issues, Gender, Law, Politics, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to Jailing women who try to commit suicide

  1. This is awful! This woman needs therapy, not jail!

  2. Frowner says:

    I have to wonder whether this would have happened to a white woman, particularly a white upper middle class woman. I suspect that these laws will be used far more to criminalize people of color and low-income people than anyone else.

    And that poor, poor woman. Easily one of my worst memories ever was when a friend’s baby died, and that was obviously not actually my baby. What a terrible thing.

  3. Some seem to care more for a fetus than a human being. I hate to tell ’em this, but, if the circumstances are right, a fetus usually becomes a human being eventually.

    There’s a kind of romanticism of the potential here, unless of course, that potential ends up on welfare. It’s the same kind of weird logic that says that children can have Medicaid benefits, but adults can’t.

  4. Tony says:

    This isn’t about protecting fetuses, any more than using the term “unborn baby” is, or keeping Terri Schiavo on life support is, it’s about making a point. The goal of doing this sort of thing is to artificially reconstruct the norms of society.

  5. ozymandias says:

    How much money will you bet me that the same people who are locking her up right now would have been all “she’s suicidal! She can’t be entrusted with a child! Ableismableismableism” if the child had survived?

  6. Not.a.name says:

    This story is horrible. They should not be doing this to her.

    What I wish to add to the discussion is how hard it is to talk about being suicidal. Psychs have a requirement to check in with patients, and report on that -as I understand it, response varies by state, but in the places I’ve lived, you can be involuntarily confined, and this is a problem both for insurance and for employment. Those who see shrinks know this, and lie.

    That does not help.

  7. Rach says:

    Not even considering the very real concerns Jill addresses on how cases like this will have a chillling effect on pregnant women seeking help for mental health problems, drug addictions, self injury or eating disorders (all of which could potentially endanger a fetus and the woman), this is just so heartbreaking and horrifying on so many levels. Such blatant ableism, sexism and disrespect for human life and struggle. What’s essentially being said here is that, “we don’t care about you, a living breathing adult (or not in some cases) human or what you’re going through, thinking, feeling because the real life issues you face and will face are trumped by as yet non-thinking, non-feeling fetus that may or may not ever become a born alive human anyway.” How utterly reprehensible.

    Is this really the message that anyone wants to send to women, women with mental health issues and women who contemplate or consider suicide? Does society really want to say, “if you’re a pregnant woman with depression or mental health issues you better make damn sure your suicide attempt is successful, because your issues, problems and cries for help put you in the same class as terrorists, rapists and murders?” Because that’s exactly what this says.

    I don’t understand this on any level. Not as a woman, not as a human being, not as a religious person, not even from a pro family standpoint. I can’t see this as anything but sick and cruel and another way to be an ableist, sexist, better than thou asshole.

  8. Rach says:

    Rach: a living breathing adult (or not in some cases) human

    *(or not adult in some cases)

    Rach:
    your issues, problems and cries for help put you in the same class as terrorists, rapists and murders?” Because that’s exactly what this says.

    *murderers.

    Clearly I was too upset to type.

  9. Bagelsan says:

    That is disgusting. I just skimmed the post at first, and seeing the woman’s name I initially thought “wow, China’s human rights record is terrib — OH WAIT. ‘Indianapolis.’ GAAAH.”

    Good fucking job, America, land of the free, where women are already equal and we don’t need feminism anymore. I mistook something you did for an extreme example of China-style fuckery. Proud moment. *slow clap*

  10. Kristen J. says:

    Because obviously the best solution is to make suicidal people fear arrest rather than make help available for people who are contemplating suicide.

  11. Natalia says:

    Because obviously the best solution is to make suicidal people fear arrest rather than make help available for people who are contemplating suicide.

    But of course. Just like the best solution is to make drug addicts fear arrest rather than make help available for them. Everyone knows that these things always work out So Well!

  12. Reuben says:

    Sorry, question from the moron gallery – ableism?

  13. theSL says:

    Murder seems like a stretch–this requires intent to kill. This was just reckless. Reckless killings are generally classified as unintentional homicides/manslaughter. As you point out, it is not a whole lot different from other laws already on the books. What is sad about it, is the increasing trend towards criminalization of abherrant behavior. This is a sad story, not a criminal one.

  14. William says:

    How much money will you bet me that the same people who are locking her up right now would have been all “she’s suicidal! She can’t be entrusted with a child! Ableismableismableism” if the child had survived?

    Of course. I mean, she’s just here to incubate the thing. Theres some nice, rich, white, Republican family out in the suburbs who could really use it. Right?

    /vomit

  15. Amy says:

    If her suicide attempt had actually led to her death, she couldn’t have been prosecuted. So her crime here is not being good enough at killing herself? Her crime is telling someone about her suicide attempt so that they could get her medical treatment in time to save her life? So if you’re pregnant and depressed, better make sure you choose a reliably lethal suicide method? That’s a great precedent to set, Indiana.

  16. Nahida says:

    I have nothing to say to this. I actually cried, and I can’t find any words.

  17. Jadey says:

    Reuben:
    Sorry, question from the moron gallery – ableism?

    If you mean, “What is ableism?”, it is marginalization based on one’s ability status (e.g., physical and cognitive impairments, mental health disorders, some forms of neuro-atypicality). It is highly Google-able as well.

    One manifestation of “ableism” is argued to be the casual use of derogatory terms for people with disabilities (PWD), including “moron”. Not all PWD agree that this is ableist (there was a big debate about this in a recent Feministe thread), but unless you are a PWD claiming back a specific word in reference to yourself (i.e., a person with a mobility impairment reclaiming the word “gimp”), it’s best to avoid.

    If you mean, “What in this particular story is ableist?”, a woman was incarcerated as a consequence of her mental health condition.

  18. Clarissa says:

    Shuai is being punished and persecuted for being a woman. It’s as simple as that.

    A horrifying story.

  19. Miku says:

    Be advised! Depressed minorities at large! All citizens are asked to refrain from panicking! Your friendly Neighbourhood Protection Squad is handling the situation accordingly! Again, we ask you not to panic!

  20. Lauren says:

    Hi, pregnant Indiana resident here. *waves*

    I want to point out that this is taking place among a particular atmosphere, one in which the current Indiana state legislature maintains a serious hard-on for all things woman-punishing and anti-abortion. If you take a look at the items that were on the books for the state in the last few months, many of them are directly tied to classic anti-abortion, anti-woman legal tactics that have been tested elsewhere first, from laws like refusing rape/incest exceptions because “women lie” (a quote from the statehouse floor within the last two weeks) to forcing doctors to tell women that getting an abortion will raise her breast cancer risk and cause infertility (which we have known for years is just scientifically not true). The local atmosphere is rabidly seeking women to make examples of, and this woman has found herself on top of an effigy of local officials dying to peg someone for feticide or something like it. She makes a perfect target for because she is part of a small immigrant community that doesn’t command much political power on the local scene, if at all, and because the wider communities are xenophobic and suspicious of outsiders and are highly unlikely to raise an eyebrow at the violations of her rights.

    I have no idea what to do about this, but it seems like the local orgs are paralyzed with fear because of the anti-anything-liberal atmosphere or whether they’re unable to imagine doing more than tsking and shrugging their shoulders at the poor woman’s misfortune.

    And we have to remember, too, that as gross as this is, it isn’t all that fucking uncommon. We regularly jail women who have the audacity to fuck-while-depressed, -addicted, -immigrant, -ill, etc etc etc. As a society we MUST recognize that pregnancy is compulsory for the majority of sexually active heterosexuals UNLESS we give them options to delay live births until it’s socially feasible for them to care for real, live, not-hypethetical children. As feminists we also need to be extremely wary of drive-by parenting. Stepping outside of the social norms while pregnant puts you at risk of strong social pushback — forget rat poison, try to do something as “controversial” as have a glass of wine (OR COFFEE) in public when pregnant — and the more we accept the state’s interference in pregnant women’s privacy the more willing we are as a nation to criminalize socially inconvenient behavior among birthing women. And on and on and on.

  21. Kathleen says:

    Is there a way to contact this guy Rimstidt? I just think a lot of these conservative officials never get any push-back, they live in a teeny mean spirited world in which this kind of thing is only praised. Getting a bunch of messages — polite but forceful — that say, hey, this is heartless — I don’t know, I think shining some bright light on his mean dreary little corner of the universe is worth something. Does anyone know how one might do so?

  22. Lauren says:

    It would be super awesome if you chalked my typos up to passionate rage.

  23. Bitter Scribe says:

    The only way this could possibly be justified is if they were using it to force the woman into therapy. I can’t believe they would want to just throw her in jail.

  24. William says:

    The only way this could possibly be justified is if they were using it to force the woman into therapy.

    Even then it would be unjustifiable. The legal system exists to punish people who hurt other people, not to force some people into the kinds of relationships some other people would like to see them in. Aside from mandated treatment being questionable from a functional perspective, its pretty fucked up to even consider the kinds of ableism that would inevitably be involved in any kind of attempt to threaten someone with jail time for refusing treatment. Its ugly when we do it to schizophrenics, its ugly when we do it to drug addicts, it would be just as ugly if we did it to people who have attempted suicide. I’d take a patient like that on principle and falsify documents just to get them out of that kind of situation and I’d consider it my ethical duty as a professional.

  25. wl says:

    William: Even then it would be unjustifiable. The legal system exists to punish people who hurt other people, not to force some people into the kinds of relationships some other people would like to see them in. Aside from mandated treatment being questionable from a functional perspective, its pretty fucked up to even consider the kinds of ableism that would inevitably be involved in any kind of attempt to threaten someone with jail time for refusing treatment. Its ugly when we do it to schizophrenics, its ugly when we do it to drug addicts, it would be just as ugly if we did it to people who have attempted suicide. I’d take a patient like that on principle and falsify documents just to get them out of that kind of situation and I’d consider it my ethical duty as a professional.

    We DO do it to people who have attempted suicide. I was in a psych ward with a guy who was court-mandated to get electroshock therapy after he attempted suicide. It was really fucked up.

  26. wl says:

    St. Vincents. Ding-dong the witch is dead.

  27. rkel says:

    What a disgusting lack of compassion for what this woman went through. What kind of barbarism is this where after all she went through she is charged, exposed to the brutality of public shaming and threatend with jail time.

    Barbarism. Thats all it is. The US NEEDS name-supression for people like this, so that if this kind of shit happens, at the very least they aren’t exposed to a poisonous public.

  28. Caity says:

    That poor woman :(

    Instead of treating her with compassion and getting her some help and support for what she’s just gone through, she’s jailed for her ordeal. This is not the story of a murderer.

  29. Caity says:

    That poor woman :(

    Instead of treating her with compassion and getting her some help and support for what she’s just gone through, she’s jailed for her ordeal. This is not the story of a murderer.

    Besides, doesn’t murder require intent to kill? This act was not aimed at the baby she held in her arms as it died. It was aimed at herself. At worst this could only be considered some sort of negligence or manslaughter, or am I just confused?

  30. Caity says:

    Oops, sorry for the kind-of doublepost. My internet did something screwy and I wasn’t sure if the first actually had posted when I rewrote it.

  31. Miss S says:

    I have a sort of question for the legal experts:

    I remember a high profile case where a man was accused of murdering his pregnant wife. I’m almost positive he was charged for the murder of his wife, and the murder of the unborn child.

    If someone were to harm a pregnant woman, and it resulted in the death of her fetus, but not her, wouldn’t they be charged with homicide/manslaughter? I’ve always assumed this was the case, but I’m not a lawyer :) I’m trying to understand why this case is legally different from the example above.

  32. PrettyAmiable says:

    Is there a way to contact her? Honestly, I would love to show some kind of support.

  33. Miss S says:

    In other words, if someone else poisoned her, and it resulted in the death of her fetus, wouldn’t they be held accountable?

  34. lauredhel says:

    Miss S: In an ideal jurisdiction, when someone injures a pregnant person so badly that the fetus is lost, that’s grievous bodily harm against the person concerned. (in the worst category of GBH, because that sort of injury is generally associated with severe damage, pain and suffering – pregnancy is a pretty robust process and not easily disrupted). It’s not murder of the fetus itself, because a fetus is not a person.

    Actual laws on this vary from place to place. Laws calling it murder are generally passed by douchebags who are working toward personhood of the fetus (and therefore complete criminalisation of abortion) inch by inch, in ways they think are more acceptable to the public.

  35. Brett K says:

    This is so awful that I don’t even know what to say. Is there some way to contribute to this woman’s legal defence fund? It’s bad enough that she’s being prosecuted at all, but it would be beyond inhuman if she actually had to go to prison.

    And I agree with William above. Forcing people into treatment may not be as bad as sending them to jail, but it’s still wrong. People considering suicide (and people with other mental illnesses) need treatment, but forcing them into that treatment is as bad as not providing it at all. The only way to help these people (people like me!) is by removing the stigma surrounding mental illness/treatment for mental illness, and making said treatment economically and socially accessible for everyone. Oh, and NOT JAILING SUICIDAL WOMEN.

  36. Natalia says:

    The only way to help these people (people like me!) is by removing the stigma surrounding mental illness/treatment for mental illness, and making said treatment economically and socially accessible for everyone.

    That’s a very important point. Decent care is simply not available to a huge chunk of the population. Decent care doesn’t always mean a favourable outcome – but it’s a starting point. The resources being used to prosecute this woman could have been used for *helping* people – and that enrages me to no end.

  37. Pingback: The Legality Of Pregnant Suicides | Sinting Link

  38. laundress says:

    There is a good deal of local support for Ms. Shuai in Indianapolis; just look here, for instance:

    http://indianalawblog.com/archives/2011/04/ind_govt_though_1.html

    Those wanting to donate to her defense would do well to support the ACLU of Indiana:

    http://www.aclu-in.org/home

    which has filed an amicus brief in her case:

    http://www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/state-indiana-v-bei-bei-shuai

  39. wl says:

    Brett K:
    And I agree with William above. Forcing people into treatment may not be as bad as sending them to jail, but it’s still wrong.

    Speak for yourself. It can be. You ever been in Gracie Square (esp. the dual-dx mental illness and substance abuse floor)?

  40. paraxeni says:

    Gilead. Alive and well in Indy.

    Lauren – I may be getting confused with another state, but aren’t they trying to push a 20wk abortion limit based on (non-existent) foetal pain in your state? It’s preposterous, especially given that 20 weeks is pretty much the exact time when conditions that are incompatible with life are diagnosed. It’s so cruel.

  41. AK says:

    Not to mention if you are involuntarily incarcerated in a mental institution it can make the problems worse, because it often results in loosing your job, having your friends/family find out what’s happening, etc. Having a personal life in a chaos is not a good thing for recovery and treatment, and 3 days in a psych ward isn’t going to have more benefits. And yeah, the conditions in some of those places are terrible. My brother spent time both in jail and in a local institution and he said he’d take the jail any time. He felt safer and was treated better in jail.

    This story made me physically sick reading it. How the US treats its people in need of help is truly appalling, especially for a country that screams so much about the value of human life.

  42. AK says:

    That should have been “losing your job,” I apparently haven’t had enough coffee yet this morning.

  43. carrie says:

    I read this article with a gaping mouth and lots of gasps. Nah-uh. Seriously scary stuff.

    Then I happened upon this article , which made light bulbs go off. It’s meta-message is how women (their vaginas and their wombs) are the means of population stabilizers and even propellers (because those little fetuses grow up to pay taxes!).

    I felt all icky after reading it and this. I need a shower.

  44. William says:

    wl:

    We DO do it to people who have attempted suicide. I was in a psych ward with a guy who was court-mandated to get electroshock therapy after he attempted suicide. It was really fucked up.

    Court mandated treatment is a slightly different (though no less odious) thing than the threat of prison being used to force someone into therapy. They’re both really ugly but they’re slightly different kinds of coercion.

    Brett K:

    And I agree with William above. Forcing people into treatment may not be as bad as sending them to jail,

    That really depends on the kind of treatment being forced and the diagnoses involved. At least with prison you tend to have specific sentences rather than “you get out when we say you’re cured and our census numbers are low this year.”

  45. Kathleen says:

    laundress — many thanks for those links. I kind of went all blissed out after the 2008 election, good reminder that yes, the ACLU still needs my donations and thank the stars above for its work.

  46. james says:

    “If someone were to harm a pregnant woman, and it resulted in the death of her fetus, but not her, wouldn’t they be charged with homicide/manslaughter? I’ve always assumed this was the case, but I’m not a lawyer :) I’m trying to understand why this case is legally different from the example above.”

    The classic answer is that if you harm a fetus and cause a woman to miscarry then it is feticide/abortion (legalised abortion obciously carves out exceptions for some abortions depending on their licensing, cause, and reason). But if you harm a fetus, the child is born alive, and then dies of the injuries then that is murder.

    Some US states have relatively recently extending murder to include the death of a viable fetus, before it is born (again, legalised abortion carves out exclusions). Generally feminists oppose this as an attempt to extend personhood/criminalise abortion. But on the other hand, there is at least a sort of tacit acceptance of the principle – there’s no feminist lobby campaigning to get wife beaters or drunk drivers freed from unjust sentences for fetal murder.

    “In other words, if someone else poisoned her, and it resulted in the death of her fetus, wouldn’t they be held accountable?”

    Fetus is completely the wrong word here, it resulted in the death of a baby who had a short and painful life. And yes, they would be held accountable. I absolutely agree we should exercise compassion when dealing with the vulnerable, but the law here is totally justifiable.

    Regarding ableism, I think most the posters here are being ableist. If people are harmed before they are born they absolutely have the right to recompense. People here are saying that if someone’s mother was responsible for their disadvantage – then tough, they’re just shit out of luck. That’s extremely ableist.

    I’m also not sure about the assumption that because someone attempts suicide then they’re mentally ill.

  47. Raja says:

    The difference between someone else intentionally harming another person’s fetus and someone taking their own life while they happened to be carrying a fetus is choice. The latter made a decision to end their life while the first was forced upon them whether they wanted it or not. And no abortion does not fall into the first category unless it was forced because otherwise the person is a making a choice of what they want to do with their body.

  48. Yonmei says:

    james: I absolutely agree we should exercise compassion when dealing with the vulnerable, but the law here is totally justifiable.

    So basically, you feel that when the woman’s friends convinced her to go to hospital, they shouldn’t have? She’s being prosecuted for murder because she survived suicide: this would appear to be yet another example of prolifers seriously arguing that it’s better for two to die than for one to live.

    Odd that they call themselves “prolifeers”, isn’t it?

  49. This is why judges and prosecutors should be appointed, not elected. Terry Curry’s website (“terrycurry.com”) features a promo video with (by my count) five babies and a boast that “He led undercover sting operations that took down sexual predators.”

  50. Kyra says:

    This is kind of reminding me of a news story a few years back where local police charged an escaped suspect with theft of the handcuffs he escaped while wearing—it seemed ridiculous to me at the time because he didn’t have the option of leaving them behind.

    It’s the same principle here—being a pregnant woman, she didn’t have the option of excluding her fetus from her suicide attempt—facts of biology dragged it into danger. As such, it’s kind of disingenuous to prosecute her for neglecting/failing to do what she couldn’t do.

  51. Azalea says:

    Yonmei: james: I absolutely agree we should exercise compassion when dealing with the vulnerable, but the law here is totally justifiable.So basically, you feel that when the woman’s friends convinced her to go to hospital, they shouldn’t have? She’s being prosecuted for murder because she survived suicide: this would appear to be yet another example of prolifers seriously arguing that it’s better for two to die than for one to live.Odd that they call themselves “prolifeers”, isn’t it?

    I think the point is it was better for her not to take the rat poison in the first place. And I do agree with him, fetus is the wrong word because a fetus didnt die; a human being newborn died. Had she died pregnant (not left her home, not been coerced to the hospital, only one person would have died, the pregnant woman and one fetus would have died. But the chances of two PEOPLE dying from a pregnant’s woman suicide prior to being in labor isn’t something I think is highly likely.

  52. wl says:

    Azalea: I think the point is it was better for her not to take the rat poison in the first place.

    Have you ever been suicidal?

  53. SephONE says:

    “But on the other hand, there is at least a sort of tacit acceptance of the principle – there’s no feminist lobby campaigning to get wife beaters or drunk drivers freed from unjust sentences for fetal murder.”

    James, that’s a rather big conclusion to jump to isn’t it? Perhaps ‘those feminists’ (though I have to wonder who you’re even talking about, what ‘unjust’ sentences, you’re being /way/ too vague while also generalizing which is a bad combination..) are thinking more on the fact that ‘fetal murder’ tends to involve abusing and hurting the pregnant woman as well for the wife beaters? Are you just conveniently forgetting this? Let’s not talk about tacit acceptance if you don’t have all the facts straight.

    “I absolutely agree we should exercise compassion when dealing with the vulnerable, but the law here is totally justifiable.”

    You have done nothing to justify it or explain how it is in fact justifiable. The post that Jill made has done everything to make it clear that a law like this only leads to stripping away women’s bodily autonomy and being dehumanized into ‘the thing that has babies for us and if it doesn’t then she’ll be punished’. You’re talking of this as if it is an isolated incident, James, when it is clearly not..

  54. Sonia says:

    From the title it appeared that the jailing was for committing suicide, which is actually a rule in many places. The jail here is for harming the fetus, a completely different charge.

  55. Azalea says:

    wl: Have you ever been suicidal?

    No, I haven’t but she left home and plenty of other opportunities to successfully commit suicide on her way to the gas station. She hadn’t tried to kill herself again (at least the article makes no mention of it) post labor and from that I gather she has found reason to want to live again. Either way, she is still alive now by her choice (as she hasn’t killed herself) so yeah I think it would have been best had she not ATTEMPTED it in the first place. Rat poison could cause irrepairable damage to one’s organs and killed her daughter. Its great that the rat poison didn’t kill HER but its still tragic that it killed her daughter.

    wl: Have you ever been suicidal?

  56. partly_cloudy says:

    It doesn’t really matter to society if the woman herself is suicidal, or addicted to drugs, even though these things are obviously tragedies in their own right, and should be considered as such – tragedies which preexisted any pregnancy. But heaven forbid she attempt to shirk her ultimate natural domestic role as Baby Incubator(TM): All hell breaks loose. You can’t just kill yourself and stop the biological processes of your womanly Baby-Incubating Machine while there’s a fetus in there that needs to use your bodily organs! Who cares about you and your mental well-being?

  57. partly_cloudy says:

    She’s being prosecuted for murder because she survived suicide: this would appear to be yet another example of prolifers seriously arguing that it’s better for two to die than for one to live.

    Well, clearly, the woman has to die as a just and godly punishment for rejecting maternity and all the cultural myths and fictions of motherhood that come with it.

  58. Henry says:

    ummm why is she being charged…she clearly has a temporary insanity denfense to the act. The only way I could see a law relating to mistreatment of a fetus being even remotely correct would be if the perpetrator did it on purpose, for the express purpose of creating, and bringing to term a damaged child. She never took the rat posion cause she was all “I want to have a poisoned baby and watch it die horribly” which is what the state is basically saying she did. As to james, recompense and criminal acts are two different things. maybe crack babies do have a civil claim against their moms, the crack dealer that got mom hooked etc. for their future care and other damages, but mom should not go to jail for something she did not intend to do.

  59. There is also a petition circulating in support of Shuai. Please sign and pass it on:

    http://www.change.org/petitions/free-bei-bei-shuai

  60. Miss S says:

    Lauredhel-
    Thanks for the reply.
    James:
    I agree. If someone poisoned me while I was pregnant and killed my baby, I would expect that they would be held accountable. I would expect that this woman would be held accountable as well.

    I’m not convinced that she needs to be in jail, considering this was an act of self harm. I think she needs help for depression/mental distress. Depression is a serious thing.

  61. PrettyAmiable says:

    @Azalea, according to this article, pesticide poisoning is the most common form of suicide in the western Pacific region at over 50% of attempts in the area. I’m not surprised that she chose this method. And given that I’m sure she wasn’t planning on surviving, I’m sure she wasn’t thinking about organ damage or her fetus.

    Azalea: Either way, she is still alive now by her choice (as she hasn’t killed herself) so yeah I think it would have been best had she not ATTEMPTED it in the first place.

    This is callous. You think because she hasn’t completed her suicide that she’s somehow less distressed than she was? That she’s getting what she had coming to her for not ingesting enough poison well in advance of the baby’s birth? What exactly were you trying to say here?

    I’m with wl. A great (and short) book that’ll give you a better insight into a suicidal mind if you haven’t experienced it yourself is Darkness Visible. I would tell you that it’s a quick read, but I definitely had to take it in pieces myself, so beware.

  62. Avida Quesada says:

    This is nonsense. Even if the law allowed (and should not) the prosecutor has discretion and should not insist in this abusive, illogical act act.

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