Posted for National Advocates for Pregnant Women:
Indianapolis-based student, social justice, and faith-based activists are planning a rally in support of Bei Bei Shuai and against separate and unequal laws for pregnant women. The Rally will take place on April 6 at 2pm in front of the City Market (222 E. Market Street) in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. Please join us there!
More than two years ago Bei Bei Shuai was pregnant and, in an act of desperation, sought to kill herself. Friends intervened and got her to a hospital in time. She survived and did everything she could to ensure that her baby would too, including undergoing emergency cesarean surgery. The baby was born alive, but tragically did not survive.
Attempting suicide is not a crime in Indiana, yet the state responded to this tragic situation by arresting Ms. Shuai on charges of murder of a viable fetus and attempted feticide. According to the state of Indiana, attempted feticide may be charged whenever a pregnant woman engages in any intentional action that threatens the life of a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus. The Supreme Court of Indiana refused to dismiss the charges against Ms. Shuai even though scores of medical, mental health, public health, and health advocacy groups explained why doing so is crucial to protecting maternal, child, and fetal health. It has been more than two years since Ms. Shuai was criminally charged. She spent a full year in jail deprived of her constitutional right to bail. She was finally granted bail and released from jail, but she is far from free — Ms. Shaui must pay $12 a day to wear an electronic monitor.
This case affects all pregnant women — and really all women of childbearing age. If upheld it means that Indiana will have a system of separate and unequal law for women: a new Jane Crow. For example, attempting suicide will be a crime — but only for women who are pregnant. Every intentional action or inaction by a pregnant woman that could lead to the death of a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus would be covered under the feticide law, relegating all pregnant women to a “special” class of persons who may be subject to surveillance, control and punishment. Declining a doctor’s advice for bed rest, prenatal tests, or cesarean surgery could all be treated as attempted feticide. (Threats of arrest and actual arrests in such situations are not hypothetical.) Indeed, every fertile woman will be responsible at all times for knowing if she is pregnant so she can determine if an action or inaction might be the crime of feticide, attempted feticide, or attempted murder.
Ms. Shuai’s case has garnered an outpouring of online support from around the world that has surprised even the prosecutor, as he admits in this video from the Indianapolis Star. You can help continue this momentum by supporting a rally to take place on April 6 in Indianapolis! There are 3 important ways you can support this effort:
Show up! Join NAPW’s Executive Director, Lynn Paltrow, in Indiana on April 6th and encourage your students, friends, family, or local organization members to attend too. And then, encourage them again! Having people show up in person sends a strong message: We stand with Bei Bei! We stand for equality, justice, and freedom!
Spread the word! Please share this event with your networks. Visit (and share widely!) the Facebook event that tells people where and when to show up. Blog about it! Share the posters and flyers! Send an email blast to your supporters! Sign the online petition!
Speak out! As NAPW’s Board President, Jeanne Flavin, and Executive Director, Lynn Paltrow, explain in “Toward a “Pro Lives” Perspective that Values the Lives of Pregnant Women and the Well-Being of Our Nation,” there is strong opposition across party lines and in spite of political labels to giving states the power to lock up and tie down pregnant women.
If you are in Indianapolis you can hear Lynn Paltrow speak at:
•Butler University in Indianapolis, IN on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 7:00 pm in Room 156 of the university’s Pharmacy and Health Sciences Building for their Women’s History Month lecture series;
•Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) in Fort Wayne, IN on Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 7:30 pm in Neff 101 for their Women’s History Month lecture series;
•Indiana University’s Mauer School of Law in Bloomington, IN on Friday, March 29, 2013 at 12 noon in Room 121 for an event hosted by Law Students for Reproductive Justice, the Feminist Law Forum, and the American Constitution Society.