Bei Bei Shuai - Out of Jail and Refusing to Give In

On Friday of last week, Bei Bei Shuai once again demonstrated her enormous courage. Ms. Shuai turned down a plea bargain - an offer from the prosecutor in which the state would drop the murder charge if she would plead guilty to the lesser crime of attempted feticide. Ms. Shuai stood firm and refused.

NAPW's ongoing research has turned up scores of cases in which women have pleaded guilty to crimes they did not commit out of fear that they would be convicted of even more serious charges heaped upon them. By refusing the plea offer, Ms. Shuai took a stand not only for her own innocence but also for the rights and humanity of all pregnant women in Indiana.

Terry Curry, the Indiana prosecutor, not only wants to see Ms. Shuai convicted, he apparently wants to prevent Ms. Shuai from having an effective defense against the cruel, inappropriate, and unconstitutional charges he filed against her. Last month, Mr. Curry filed a motion in the Marion County Superior Court seeking to have Linda Pence, lead defense counsel, admonished for statements she made in an effort to obtain support for Ms. Shuai and her legal defense for the murder trial she must now face.

As the Guardian reported:

The move to have Shuai's lawyer admonished has rung warning bells among criminal defense lawyers across the US. Richard Kammen, a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said that it was "hard to fathom their thinking and what they want to get out of this. This strikes me as being way outside what a prosecutor should be doing. Given the numerous public statements about this case made by the prosecutor, it makes you wonder what the agenda might be - is it to intimidate her or prevent her raising money?"

We won't be intimidated! And we won't give up.

If, as the Indiana prosecutor and Attorney General argue, the state may use the criminal law to "protect" fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses from the pregnant women who carry and nurture them, women who become pregnant risk losing their liberty to life sentences in jail. As NAPW's Farah Diaz-Tello explains in a new piece in RH Reality Check, if so-called personhood measures pass, directly or in disguise, through cases like Ms. Shuai's, we should expect that women will go to prison for a very long time.

Pregnant women, however, not only also risk losing their right to liberty, but also the right of privacy in their communication with health care providers and in the provision of medical care overall.

An individual's medical records are intensely personal. In this case, the state obtained Ms. Shuai's confidential medical information without so much as a subpoena (court order), much less a search warrant to further a criminal investigation. This not only disregards Ms. Shuai's Fourth Amendment right to be free from illegal searches and seizures, but, if allowed, would set a precedent that would make every pregnant woman in Indiana vulnerable to similarly invasive actions by the state.

On Friday, Ms. Shuai's defense team fought this violation of patient rights and asked the court to prevent the state from using medical records related to Ms. Shuai's hospital treatment as evidence against her at trial. The court seems to have taken these arguments seriously and has given Ms. Shuai's defense team 30 days to file additional written arguments on this critical issue of pregnant women's medical privacy.

We hope you agree that pregnant women should not have to follow Soraya Chemaly's 10 Tips for Staying out of Jail When You're Pregnant. Please help NAPW ensure that women do not lose their civil and human rights upon becoming pregnant.

As of July 19, 2012 more than 7,000 people signed the
Free Bei Bei Shuai online petition . Have you signed?