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Grand Jury To Decide Case Of Ohio Woman Who Miscarried

An Ohio woman who miscarried a nonviable fetus at home could be indicted for abuse of a corpse by an Ohio grand jury Wednesday, the New York Times reports. Experts say it is an extremely rare interpretation of a state law. The woman, Brittany Watts, 34, of Warren, Ohio, was arrested in October after passing a fetus in her bathroom and trying to flush the remains down the toilet. The case has been before a Trumbull County grand jury since November. If convicted, Watts, who is Black, could face up to a year in prison. She has pleaded not guilty. The law in question bars the treatment of “a human corpse in a way that the person knows would outrage” either “reasonable family sensibilities,” resulting in a misdemeanor, or “community sensibilities,” resulting in a felony charge.

Although records show that Watts spontaneously miscarried, the case has come under scrutiny by lawyers and reproductive health advocates who say that prosecuting her is baseless and may deter other women who miscarry from obtaining medical attention they need. The charge came a month before Ohio voters enshrined the right to abortion in the State Constitution until the point of fetal viability, 22 weeks in the state, as well as the right to contraception, fertility treatment and miscarriage care. Watts was 21 weeks and five days pregnant when she was admitted to St. Joseph Warren Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio, with vaginal bleeding on Sept. 19. The police charged Ms. Watts on Oct. 5 with abuse of corpse as a felony under a law adopted by the Ohio Legislature in 1996.


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