When Is Suicide Not Suicide? When You’re Pregnant

Today, the Indiana Court of Appeals heard testimony on the case of Bei Bei Shuai, the pregnant woman who ingested rat poison in a suicide attempt, causing her to go into preterm labor at 33 weeks to a baby girl that died soon after.

Shuai, who survived her attempted suicide only to be arrested and held without bail since this March, has become the poster child for the question as to whether the rights of a fetus actually outweigh the rights of the woman who carries it.  Ironically, she has now been imprisoned for nine months — longer than she ever carried the baby girl that she is accused of murdering.

Numerous groups have filed friend of the court briefings, asking for the state to release Shuai because you cannot be prosecuted for a suicide attempt.  But the state has been determined to see the case not as a suicide attempt, but as an act of murder of a viable fetus, and is punishing her to the fullest extent that they can.

According to the Greenfield Reporter, “Attorney Linda Pence argues that Indiana’s law was written to protect fetuses from violence from third parties, not from their own mothers. She says suicide isn’t a crime and Shuai couldn’t have expected to be arrested.”  Prosecution, meanwhile, is countering by proclaiming that Shuai “knowingly killed a viable fetus.

In short, had Shuai been successful in her suicide attempt, she would not be punished.  Had she failed in her suicide attempt but the preterm infant survived, she would not be punished.  Had she failed in her suicide and not been pregnant, again, she would not be punished.  Had she failed in her suicide attempt and not been so advanced in her pregnancy, once again, she would not be punished.

If not for a matter of a few weeks in either direction, Shuai would be offered help.  Instead, she is being held in prison indefinitely and without bail. In fact, when asked about dropping charges, the state Attorney General refused.  “This case generates strong opinions but the state’s position adheres to the longstanding principle that a jury must weigh any facts, even those that go to the defendant’s intent, and therefore the trial court is where this case belongs. The defense can argue its interpretation of the facts to the jury but the county prosecutor need not accept at face value the defense’s assertions.”

In other words, the state of Indiana thinks that the inadvertent death of a 33 week preterm baby matters far more than the mental health of the woman who was carrying her, and demands that she be judged by a jury, held indefinitely, and used as a cautionary tale rather than be given any sort of treatment or counseling.


By Olek Remesz (wiki-pl: Orem, commons: Orem) [GFDL 1.2 (www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons


Sheri P.
Sheri P4 years ago


Past Member
Past Member 4 years ago

She should be congratulated for her SELFLESS actions and given compensation for all she has suffered at the hands of the dictatorial natalist state. STOP MAKING BABIES. https://www.facebook.com/groups/101910558810/

Glenna Jones-kachtik
Glenna Kachtik4 years ago

While it is true that suicide is an inherently selfish act; it is not always true that the person is thinking rationally at all...therefore you cannot without all doubt say that she knew she was killing the baby too. In fact the baby born at this point, to a mother who suffers seizures & blackouts might have died anyway. We do not know that the rat poison killed the baby; after all, it was born alive & apparently healthy after the C Section.

Kymberli Ward
Kymberli Ward4 years ago


Roxanne I.
Roxanne Ivey4 years ago

One of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, openly battled chronic, suicidal depression--including while he was in the White House. His struggle is well documented in Joshua Wolf Shenk’s book, Lincoln’s Melancholy, which includes a chapter titled, “The Community Said He Was Crazy.” But Lincoln’s community didn’t shun him; they protected him, helped him. And thank God for us all that they did.

joe M.
joe MARTINEZ4 years ago

Debra G. Only in this santimonious country can suicidual be considered murder. In Japan it's the honor way to repent ones sins by committing suicide. That nation is pretty well balanced verus the contradictive deity region holier than thou, the Midwest and Southern States of the USA, where religion bigots are trying to wipe out women rights, Mississippi attempted to crimalize miscarriage during the latast election. They failed, but it high lights the mantelity of the Southern Region.

Debra G.
Debra D4 years ago

Punishing someone for crushing depression is just plain wrong. How could anyone prosecute a person for being suicidal. She clearly was not in her right mind. the Indiana (in)justice system should be ashamed.

joe M.
joe MARTINEZ4 years ago

Roxanne: In your crys for help, you encounter an ignorant psychiatic nurse that had no business practicing this delicate skill. I hope you logged a compalint with her superiors. Additionally I'm pleased to learn that you overcame you hardship days and are enjoying the only life you were blessed with.

joe M.
joe MARTINEZ4 years ago

Marieanne P. ; Obviously the lady suffered diminished mental control, brought about by sever depression. The type of depression we can only guess, but we're assuming to be the type caused by abnormal conditions, such as abandonment by the rogue impregnator and poor econmics structure .Some forms of depression can induce impasse, in other words no way out. It's not a case selfishness, it's a condition where the brain is overwhelmed by stress and looses rational control. Humans intelligent brain knows that the end (death) removes all pain and suffering period.

Lilithe Magdalene

Abhorrent. Petition signed.