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.

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