Pregnant Woman Who Attempted Suicide Now Charged With Murder

In a horrifyingly insensitive and counterintuitive move, murder charges were filed against an Indiana woman who attempted suicide in a late stage of her pregnancy.  Bei Bei Shuai ingested rat poison in December, trying to end her life; she was taken to the hospital by friends and got help in time.  When her child was born, though, she was first put on life support but then removed when doctors determined that they could not save her.  Shuai is now facing feticide charges.

Robin Marty (who you may know from Care2) wrote a great short piece for RHRealityCheck, dissecting the situation.  “Was the poisoning really just an attempt at a do it yourself abortion, as the prosecution appears to be claiming?” she asks.  If these charges are successful, as she points out, this could easily lead to a slippery slope, where women who experience any kind of harm during pregnancy can be accused of trying to abort (or “murder”) their fetus.

Indiana is poised to pass a “fetal pain” law which would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks, claiming that after that point, the fetus can feel pain.  And in 2009, the Indiana legislature passed a bill that imposed harsh penalties on crimes that lead to the death of an unborn child at any stage of development.  This law was passed after a bank teller was shot during an attempted robbery and her unborn twins died, so it looks like this is the first application of the feticide bill to a pregnant woman who tried to kill herself.

The issue is that we don’t know why Shuai tried to ingest rat poison – it seems more like she was simply trying to end her life than to willfully kill her fetus.  Either way, as Robin points out, the prosecutor is deciding the motive – talk about taking away women’s agency.  Let’s hope that Shaui’s attorney is successful in her attempts to get the charges thrown out.

Photo from Flickr.

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Hilary E.
Hilary E.4 years ago

i am pro choice all the way but your fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks and its has been listening to your voice and you heartbeat for a while at that point. I do think women should have the right to choose, but I'm all for women being properly educated about the little human they are growing. I do think there should always be and ultrasound before an abortion, if for no other reason than for the safety of the mother to make sure there will be no complications with the procedure. And quite frankly if you really wanted an abortion you should have done it before you made it halfway through the pregnancy, thats just laziness to wait on it. I know there are always different circumstances for every womans situation but overall and choice surrounding such a huge issue should be thought out thoroughly and made with a certain level of education on the issue. If that happened the women who do decide to get abortions would probably be less likely to suffer guilt and depression from their choice.

Donna Farr
Donna F.4 years ago

Depression is debilitating disease or illness. Nobody knows the real reason for what happened or why the women felt so overwhelmed with the thought of raising a child to what to end her life. It is sad in any case for the unborn and the women. Jail time is not what she needs, she should be put in a therapy group that could help her.

Marjaana V.
m y.4 years ago

wow! going backwards in leaps and bounds! in no time at all women will be pelted with rotten food while in stocks... i just can't believe this!

Tina Contocra
Tina Contocra4 years ago

I cannot believe this uncruel injustice being exercised on pregnant women! A pregnant woman who has problems, whatever those problems may be, may not act as rationally as one may want. I agree that these women need medical help, not jail time! I agree with Judith R. Common sense and compassion is needed for these women! What is happening to women's rights, is beyond me! It's shocking and uncalled for! It IS like we're in the Dark Ages, as Leah C correctly referred to!

Leah Cluverius

I think that being depressed would put her in the category of incapable of right judgement. In any case, this sounds to me like going back to the dark times of the Middle Ages. Will the doctors who prescribed medication to expecting mothers to save their lives but with side effects for the fetus be brought to justice as well? What about if one of the parent knows he is carrying a gene for a disease that will eventually kill the child and does keep the fetus alive? And what about expecting mothers who loose the fetus because of accidents they might have been able to prevent, if for instance they did not drive or were not in a car? Is this the direction justice is taking?

Maarja L.
Maarja L.4 years ago

This is wrong. I know how depression is, and during that one does not think straight.

Suzen R.
Suzen R.4 years ago

If there was such a thing as fetal pain all women would be given pain killers not only to help them deliver but just in case the soon to be baby would need them too.

Suzen R.
Suzen R.4 years ago

How horrid!

Georgia L.
Georgia L.4 years ago

I see fascism is making a comeback.

Kimberly M.
Kimberly M.4 years ago

What horseshit. This is absolutely disgusting. My heart goes out to this woman.