Miscarriage of justice for some pregnant black women

Lori Adelman, The Grio | July 13, 2011

If you’re wondering why Republicans have been unable to work with Democrats to arrive at a political deal to prevent the American government from going into default, it might be because they’re too busy criminalizing 15-year-old girls for having miscarriages.

You read that correctly. A 15-year-old girl named Rennie Gibbs currently faces life in prison in Mississippi over a miscarriage, and she is not the first to face attempted criminalization of this kind (though she is the first to be charged in Mississippi). Prosecutors are allegedly targeting Gibbs because she has reportedly abused cocaine, but there is no evidence that her drug use contributed to the miscarriage.

Unfortunately, her case is by no means isolated, and in fact marks the continuation of a nationwide trend towards criminalization of pregnant women. Increasingly in the United States and around the world, laws are being created and prosecutions are being brought that would make pregnant women into criminals, many of these women of color like Rennie Gibbs, an African-American teen.

Often created by conservative lawmakers, these laws attempt to assign fetuses “personhood” status, devalue pregnant women by reducing their identities to fetus carriers, and punish women for engaging in various behaviors.

Despite their dramatic posturing and elaborate rationalizations, the people driving these prosecutions are not actually concerned with keeping mothers or babies safe. If they were, they wouldn’t ignore the consensus of doctors and leading medical organizations, who have publicly opposed laws like these for years on the grounds that they scare women away from seeking the medical treatment they need and sometimes force doctors to turn in their own patients.  (Read more)