Five years after her crushing breast cancer diagnosis, WCVB-TV reporter Kelley Tuthill is free of the disease -…
Posts Tagged ‘Life’
Alternet: Why Conservatives Are Criminalizing Pregnant Women – 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.
Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby. But her case is by no means isolated. Across the US more and more prosecutions are being brought that seek to turn pregnant women into criminals.
“Women are being stripped of their constitutional personhood and subjected to truly cruel laws,” said Lynn Paltrow of the campaign National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW). “It’s turning pregnant women into a different class of person and removing them of their rights.”
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.
In Alabama at least 40 cases have been brought under the state’s “chemical endangerment” law. Introduced in 2006, the statute was designed to protect children whose parents were cooking methamphetamine in the home and thus putting their children at risk from inhaling the fumes.
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 fetus was diagnosed with possible Down’s syndrome and doctors suggested she consider a termination, which Kimbrough declined as she is not in favor 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.”
Women’s rights campaigners see the creeping criminalization of pregnant women as a new front in the culture wars over abortion, in which conservative prosecutors are chipping away at hard-won freedoms by stretching protection laws to include foetuses, in some cases from the day of conception. In Gibbs’ case defense lawyers have argued before Mississippi’s highest court that her prosecution makes no sense. Under Mississippi law it is a crime for any person except the mother to try to cause an abortion.
“If it’s not a crime for a mother to intentionally end her pregnancy, how can it be a crime for her to do it unintentionally, whether by taking drugs or smoking or whatever it is,” Robert McDuff, a civil rights lawyer asked the state supreme court.
McDuff told the Guardian that he hoped the Gibbs prosecution was an isolated example. “I hope it’s not a trend that’s going to catch on. To charge a woman with murder because of something she did during pregnancy is really unprecedented and quite extreme.”
He pointed out that anti-abortion groups were trying to amend the Mississippi constitution by setting up a state referendum, or ballot initiative, that would widen the definition of a person under the state’s bill of rights to include a fetus from the day of conception.
Some 70 organizations across America have come together to file testimonies, known as amicus briefs, in support of Gibbs that protest against her treatment on several levels. One says that to treat “as a murderer a girl who has experienced a stillbirth serves only to increase her suffering”.
Another, from a group of psychologists, laments the misunderstanding of addiction that lies behind the indictment. Gibbs did not take cocaine because she had a “depraved heart” or to “harm the fetus but to satisfy an acute psychological and physical need for that particular substance”, says the brief.
Perhaps the most persuasive argument put forward in the amicus briefs is that if such prosecutions were designed to protect the unborn child, then they would be utterly counter-productive: “Prosecuting women and girls for continuing [a pregnancy] to term despite a drug addiction encourages them to terminate wanted pregnancies to avoid criminal penalties. The state could not have intended this result when it adopted the homicide statute.”
Paltrow sees what is happening to Gibbs as a small taste of what would be unleashed were the constitutional right to an abortion ever overturned. “In Mississippi the use of the murder statute is creating a whole new legal standard that makes women accountable for the outcome of their pregnancies and threatens them with life imprisonment for murder.”
At least 38 of the 50 states across America have introduced fetal homicide laws that were intended to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from violent attacks by third parties – usually abusive male partners – but are increasingly being turned by renegade prosecutors against the women themselves.
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.
In other states laws designed to protect children against the damaging effects of drugs have similarly been twisted to punish child bearers.
Whether he’s playing a werewolf or zombie, New Hampshire’s own Sam Huntington looks for the human perspective to…
Tagged with: Cenk Uygur (MSNBC/The Young Turks host) and Ana Kasparian (co-host of The Young Turks) discuss a new bill propsed by House Republicans called the ‘Protect Life Act’. Does it live up to its name? TYT Mobile: bit.ly Subscribe: bit.ly Facebook Page: www.facebook.com Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com www.theyoungturks.com DISCOUNTS: www.theyoungturks.com FREE Movies(!): www.netflix.com [...]
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The Hammer To Visit The Slammer, Delay Convicted
As his last name says Tom delayed justice for years and the appeal process may waste a few more but tonight Tom DeLay is a convicted criminal who has gone from Dancing With The Stars to facing life behind bars. It took too much time but at last this republican scam artist and low life has met the verdict he deserved.
Five to life behind bars on the money laundering charge and two to 20 years on the conspiracy charge. Right wing apoligist for the criminal element will be crying the blues as one of their own gets the frog march. It was reported that Shawn Hannity of Fox Propoganda collapsed and required medical treatment after learning of Delays fate. (Shawn was diagnosed with a severe case of the vapors. He breathed into a paper bag for a few moments, recovered and returned to the mike to shill for another right wing republican.) Shawn shouldn’t be so shakey as the Hammer will only do 2 to 5 and a few years on probation.
Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay – once one of the most powerful and feared Republicans in Congress – was convicted Wednesday on charges he illegally funneled corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002.
Jurors deliberated for 19 hours before returning guilty verdicts against DeLay on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces up to life in prison on the money laundering charge.
Prosecutors said DeLay, who once held the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives and whose heavy-handed style earned him the nickname “the Hammer,” used his political action committee to illegally channel 0,000 in corporate donations into 2002 Texas legislative races through a money swap.
DeLay and his attorneys maintained the former Houston-area congressman did nothing wrong as no corporate funds went to
Texas candidates and the money swap was legal.
The verdict came after a three-week trial in which prosecutors presented more than 30 witnesses and volumes of e-mails and
other documents. DeLay’s attorneys presented five witnesses.
Prosecutors said DeLay conspired with two associates, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, to use his Texas-based PAC to send
0,000 in corporate money to an arm of the Washington-based Republican National Committee, or RNC. The RNC then sent the
same amount to seven Texas House candidates. Under Texas law, corporate money can’t go directly to political campaigns.
Prosecutors claim the money helped Republicans take control of the Texas House. That enabled the GOP majority to push through a Delay-engineered congressional redistricting plan that sent more Texas Republicans to Congress in 2004 – and strengthened DeLay’s political power.
DeLay’s attorneys argued the money swap resulted in the seven candidates getting donations from individuals, which they could legally use in Texas.
They also said DeLay only lent his name to the PAC and had little involvement in how it was run. Prosecutors, who presented mostly circumstantial evidence, didn’t prove he committed a crime, they said.
DeLay has chosen to have Senior Judge Pat Priest sentence him. He faces five years to life in prison on the money laundering charge and two to 20 years on the conspiracy charge. He also would be eligible for probation.
The 2005 criminal charges in Texas, as well as a separate federal investigation of DeLay’s ties to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, ended his 22-year political career representing suburban Houston. The Justice Department probe into DeLay’s ties to Abramoff ended without any charges filed against DeLay.
Ellis and Colyandro, who face lesser charges, will be tried later.
Except for a 2009 appearance on ABC’s hit television show “Dancing With the Stars,” DeLay has been out of the spotlight
since resigning from Congress in 2006. He now runs a consulting firm based in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land.
From our desks here at ACVDN we waive fondly to Tom as he starts this new phase of his life. A great many of his friends are already serving time and others of his friends are scheduled for trial and will soon join him. The only unanswered question is why did it take so long for the system to work?