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.”
What seems to basically be a massive attack on the rights of women is happening in several states in America. Places such as Mississippi, South Carolina and Alabama have decided to charge pregnant women who have miscarriages with ‘foeticide’ which seems to be a lovely little made-up term to curcumvent the fact that as a foetus does not yet count as living it can’t be murder.
It is also odd in that these states still offer abortions to women which is still as far as I’m aware a legal right in the US. According to the Guardian in Mississippi it is not illegal to cause an abortion if you are the mother and so even if you purposefully caused the miscarriage it would not be a crime and yet at least one woman is being held under these circumstances.
The abortion culture war in the country seems to have taken off again over the past year, mostly lead by the religious republican right (although not always) which generally seems to want to control individual and especially woman’s rights in the name of morality.
Abortion is a contentious issue and it definitely is not a simple one with a clear right and wrong answer, however I can say that this is almost certainly not the right way to go about it.
Is the issue as bad over there as the Guardian article makes out?