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July 31, 2019

URGENT ACTION: Demand that Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston dismiss charges against Ms. Roberts in TN!

Late last week, Tiffany Roberts of Chattanooga was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and neglect and viable fetus as a victim after experiencing a miscarriage at 23 weeks. She was pregnant with twins and faces charges for each separately and remains in jail unable to post the $1 million bond.


Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston has charged her under a misinformed and inaccurate theory that her drug use during pregnancy caused the miscarriage and a theory that a fetus or embryo is a child with separate rights, which is contrary to Tennessee and U.S. constitutional law. National Advocates for Pregnant Women stands with Health and Free Tennessee, SisterReach, and others in demanding that the District Attorney dismiss all charges and release Ms. Roberts immediately.


TAKE ACTION TODAY!

-- Ms. Roberts' court date is tomorrow, August 1st. Call the DA at (423) 209-7400, email or write on their Facebook page Hamilton County District Attorney's Office and demand justice!

--Share Healthy and Free Tennessee's and NAPW's social media posts about Ms. Roberts' case on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to help us spread the word about the unjustness of her charges.

July 24, 2019

Activist Update: Ms. Jones is Free!

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Dear Friends and Allies,

As many of you know, on June 26, a grand jury in Alabama indicted Marshae Jones for the crime of manslaughter because she experienced a pregnancy loss that she allegedly caused by being unable to protect herself from being shot in the stomach while 5 months pregnant. NAPW's long-term work in Alabama and throughout the country fighting the prosecution of pregnant women enabled us to play an important role in Ms. Jones's case. We supported state-based allies including the Yellowhammer Fund and the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund who made sure Ms. Jones was released from jail within 24 hours of her arrest. Our comments to the media and our statement on the case directed national outrage to District Attorney Lynneice Washington who announced on July 3 that she had decided to drop the manslaughter charge and not to file any other charges.

We need your support to continue our work to make sure that pregnancy-related criminal charges are dropped against hundreds of other women in Alabama and that claims of fetal personhood are not used to justify forced medical interventions on pregnant patients.

Below, please find updates about NAPW's work and the influence we have had as a leading voice in the media.

In Solidarity,

Lynn M. Paltrow
Founder and Executive Director
National Advocates for Pregnant Women


NAPW's Expertise on the Marshae Jones Case

NAPW's Founder and Executive Director Lynn M. Paltrow discussed the prosecution of Marshae Jones with Amy Goodman live on Democracy Now! In the interview, Lynn emphasized that violations of pregnant women's rights and personhood happen across the country, not just in Alabama, and not only through arrests and prosecutions.

NAPW experts reinforced this messaging in numerous national and international media outlets. Highlights include:

-- "Alabama woman charged in fetal death, her shooter goes free"(AP.org)

-- Case against Marshae Jones brings 'personhood' back to spotlight" (AL.com)

-- "Marshae Jones Is Proof Pro-Lifers Don't Care About Life" (The Nation)

-- "The Alabama Woman Charged With Her Fetus' Death Is Part of A Long History of Blaming Black Women -- For Harm To Their Unborn" (Pacific Standard)

-- "No prosecution for Alabama woman who was shot, lost fetus" (AP.org)

Thousands Seek End to Forced Cesareans in New York and Justice for Rinat Dray

On July 11, thousands of New Yorkers and others in the U.S. and from around the world demanded that Northwell Health eliminate policies and practices that authorize forced or coerced medical interventions on pregnant patients in their facilities. Through a petition organized by National Advocates for Pregnant Women and delivered to Northwell's CEO and Board of Trustees, more than 3,500 people called on Northwell to ensure that no pregnant patient is again denied their constitutional and statutory rights to medical decision-making and bodily integrity as Rinat Dray was at Northwell's Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH).

Eight years after being forced to have cesarean surgery, Ms. Dray has not received justice. The hospital and personnel who carried out the damaging surgery continue to defend their actions on the same grounds asserted in the prosecution of Marshae Jones in Alabama - that a pregnant woman has no right to put an "unborn" child in a dangerous situation. In the prosecution of Ms. Jones, the dangerous situation was being pregnant and the victim of a shooting; in the Dray case, it was being pregnant and continuing labor rather than consenting to cesarean surgery.

If you have not yet signed the NAPW petition to Northwell Health, please click here to sign! If you have already signed our petition, please view and share it on social media. Please remember to include @NorthwellHealth and #JusticeForDray in your message!

Here are some sample tweets:

Have you signed/shared the @NAPW petition bit.ly/NAPWDray calling on @NorthwellHealth to recognize people at all stages of pregnancy have civil and human rights to consent, privacy, and confidentiality? #JusticeForDray #endbirthmistreatment #respectfulbirth

NY's biggest health system @NorthwellHealth should lead the way on #respectfulbirth. 1 in 6 women experience mistreatment by health care providers during birth; more for women of color. #JusticeForDray #endbirthmistreatment Sign/share the @NAPW petition bit.ly/NAPWDray

Join thousands of New Yorkers to demand that @NorthwellHealth eliminate forced/coerced medical treatment on pregnant patients. #JusticeForDray #endbirthmistreatment #respectfulbirth Sign/share the @NAPW petition bit.ly/NAPWDray

Want to take the next step? Call the office of Northwell Health's President and CEO, Michael Dowling at (516) 321-6100 and demand that Northwell eliminate any and all policies and practices of forced or coerced medical interventions on pregnant patients, and that they take steps to ensure that all Northwell facilities and staff respect the civil and human rights of their pregnant patients.

NAPW Senior Staff Attorney Amber Khan in Ms. Magazine

NAPW Senior Staff Attorney Amber Khan authored "The Crime Was Pregnancy," published in the Summer 2019 issue of Ms. Magazine. This important piece provides an update to Janet Gallagher's Ms. Magazine article "The Fetus and the Law -- Whose Life Is It Anyway," published over 35 years ago. Ms. Gallagher's article raised concerns about the "fetal rights" movement and asked the question: "What lies in store for pregnant women in the future?"

Through documentation of NAPW cases, our advocacy and research, Ms. Khan explains how hundreds of arrests and prosecutions of pregnant women have taught us that granting separate rights to fetuses means stripping civil rights from pregnant women.

Read an excerpt of the article here


National Advocates for Pregnant Women and If/When/How Oppose FDA Restrictions on Abortion Medication

National Advocates for Pregnant Women and If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice wrote and organized a letter sent to the FDA, signed by organizations and experts in reproductive health and rights, public health, harm reduction, and HIV/AIDS. The letter opposes the FDA's recent warning letters targeting mifepristone and misoprostol as dangerous, and urges the FDA to remove the burdensome Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for mifepristone. NAPW and all of the signatories urge the FDA to revoke the warning letters issued to websites allegedly distributing these medications to consumers in light of the worsening landscape for access to safe abortion in the U.S., and remove the unnecessary and onerous REMS that prevent people from accessing safe and effective medications.

Click here to read the letter

July 23, 2019

NAPW and Professor Julie Goldscheid (CUNY Law School) issued a statement challenging false claims linking laws criminalizing abortion and related feticide laws with protection of women from violence

Some reports following New York’s passage of the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) asserted that the RHA somehow increases the risk of gender violence. NAPW and Professor Julie Goldscheid (CUNY Law School) authored a statement challenging those claims, and other false claims linking laws criminalizing abortion and related feticide laws with protection of women from violence.

Claims that laws such as the RHA pose a threat to women’s safety, and that laws criminalizing abortion somehow protect people from gender violence are dangerous and totally unfounded. We write to speak out against gender violence in all its forms and to oppose false claims about criminal abortion laws that distract attention from real threats to life and health.

We call for laws and policies based on evidence-based research and urge all those who are truly concerned with preventing intimate partner and other forms of gender violence to oppose laws that can be used to criminalize people for seeking to control their bodies and their lives. Instead, they should support universal health care and other needed services for everyone, including survivors.

This statement, signed by 91 individuals and 32 allied organizations, will be circulated broadly to policymakers and to the media whenever this issue (equating criminal abortion laws with protecting pregnant women from violence) emerges. This statement will provide important insights and framing in states where activists are working to repeal their old criminal abortion laws and replace them with laws like the RHA that actually respect the life and health of everyone, including those with the capacity for pregnancy. It will anticipate and be used to oppose false claims and counterproductive policy proposals that emerge whenever there is a high profile murder of or attack on a pregnant woman. And, the statement will stand as a repudiation of such things as the Kansas Resolution condemning New York’s RHA. The statement also will inform conversations about gender violence occurring in the wake of Alabama’s sweeping anti-abortion legislation that effectively bans all abortions without an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

Please read the full statement here.

July 11, 2019

Thousands Seek End to Forced Cesareans in NY and Justice for Rinat Dray

Today thousands of New Yorkers and others in the U.S. and from around the world are demanding that Northwell Health eliminate policies and practices that authorize forced or coerced medical interventions on pregnant patients in their facilities. Through a petition organized by National Advocates for Pregnant Women and delivered today to Northwell’s CEO and Board of Trustees, thousands of people join in calling on Northwell to ensure that no pregnant patient is again denied her constitutional and statutory rights to medical decision-making and bodily integrity as Rinat Dray was at Northwell's Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH).

Eight years after being forced to have cesarean surgery which injured her bladder, Rinat Dray has sued but has not received justice. The hospital and personnel who carried out the damaging surgery continue to defend their actions on the same grounds asserted in the recent prosecution of Marshae Jones in Alabama – that a pregnant woman has no right to put an “unborn” child in a dangerous situation. In the prosecution of Ms. Jones the dangerous situation was being pregnant and the victim of a shooting; in the Dray case it was being pregnant and continuing her labor rather than consenting to cesarean surgery.

The actions taken against Ms. Dray were authorized by SIUH’s written policy entitled “Managing Maternal Refusals” that allowed doctors and hospital counsel to override the decisions a pregnant woman makes about her body and her life. In 2018 The New York State Department of Health found that this policy violates New York’s Patients’ Bill of Rights, and directed SIUH to correct the violation.

The petition calls on Northwell to:

1. Immediately rescind all “Managing Maternal Refusal” and similar policies in Northwell’s hospital system and make any new policies addressing “maternal refusal” public.

2. Acknowledge the harms done to Rinat Dray and help her find resolution.

3. Ensure that all Northwell doctors and hospital personnel are trained in their ethical duties to honor the decisions of pregnant patients and to uphold patient rights including a pregnant woman’s right to refuse medical interventions.

4. Establish policies to affirm that women, including pregnant women at all stages of pregnancy, are fully and equally protected in Northwell facilities by the U.S. Constitution, International Human Rights principles, the New York State Patients’ Bill of Rights, and all established common law principles regarding patient consent, privacy and confidentiality.

Unfortunately, in New York and all over the world, women experience violence and disrespect during pregnancy and birth. The first ever community led study on experience of childbirth care in the United States, released in June, found that one in six women — regardless of race — experience mistreatment by health care providers during birth. Incidents of mistreatment are higher for women of color.

Northwell Health is the largest health care system in New York State and it should lead New York and the world in ensuring that pregnant women at all stages of pregnancy are fully and equally protected by the U.S. Constitution, the New York State Patients’ Bill of Rights, and legal principles regarding patient consent, privacy and confidentiality.


For more information or to speak with a representative from the NAPW legal team, please contact: Shawn Steiner, SCS@AdvocatesforPregnantWomen.org, 917.497.3037

July 5, 2019

NAPW Open Letters in the case of Ms. Roberta J. Baker in St. Francois County, Missouri

In February 2018, Ms Roberta Baker, a mother in St. Francois County, Missouri who lost her baby around 24 hours after giving birth, was charged with felony child abuse and neglect. Ms. Baker did not receive health care during her pregnancy and birth because she did not have a health care provider she could access or trust. She gave birth to a premature baby at home. The baby seemed ok to her at birth and for many hours after, but despite the baby’s grandmother calling 9-1-1 and attempting CPR when the baby was in distress, the baby did not survive. Ms. Baker was charged criminally, was refused bail and was incarcerated for a year awaiting trial.

Before her trial in May 2019, NAPW submitted an open letter to the St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney asking her to drop the charges against Ms. Baker because the prosecution was largely based on allegations about Ms. Baker’s actions during pregnancy, and no woman can guarantee a healthy birth outcome.

Ms. Baker was convicted on May 16th, 2019 of a lesser offense than she was originally charged with: an “B”-level felony instead of “A.” This removed the "causing death" element of the original felony child abuse charge.

Nonetheless, Ms. Baker is facing sentencing according to the "A" level sentencing range because of a previous record. She faces 10-30 years or life in prison.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 19th, 2019, and NAPW has learned that the judge will accept letters for consideration at sentencing. NAPW created, organized and sent an open letter to the judge, the Honorable Wendy Wexler Horn, asking for leniency in sentencing, signed by 28 physicians, health care professionals, public health advocates, legal advocates and experts in reproductive health.

You can find this open letter here.

July 2, 2019

National Advocates for Pregnant Women and If/When/How Letter to FDA Opposing Restrictions on Abortion Medication

National Advocates for Pregnant Women and If/When/How wrote and organized a letter sent to the FDA, signed by organizations and experts in reproductive health and rights, public health, harm reduction, and HIV/AIDS. The letter opposes the recent warning letters targeting mifepristone and misoprostol as dangerous, and urges the FDA to remove the REMS for mife. The signatories urge the FDA to revoke the warning letters issued to websites allegedly distributing these medications to consumers in light of the worsening landscape for access to safe abortion in the U.S., and remove the unnecessary and onerous REMS that prevent people from accessing safe and effective medications.

Click here to read the letter.

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