A grand jury is set to decide whether an Ohio woman who miscarried a nonviable fetus should face criminal consequences. Brittany Watts, who was reportedly turned into the police after her September miscarriage, has been charged with the fifth-degree felony of “abuse of a corpse” in Trumbull County. Her case has been held up as evidence of how easily pregnant people can find themselves in law enforcement’s crosshairs – especially since the overturning of Roe v Wade and amid tightening abortion restrictions, the Guardian reports. In September, Watts showed up at an Ohio hospital with signs that her water had broken prematurely. That condition can make it impossible for a pregnancy to continue and, if left untreated, pregnant people in that condition can slip into deadly sepsis – which has happened in other states post-Roe.
Watts was 21 weeks and five days into her pregnancy, CNN reported. At the time, Ohio law banned abortion past 22 weeks of pregnancy. That law has since changed: thanks to a November referendum, Ohio now permits the procedure until viability, a benchmark that generally occurs at about 24 weeks of pregnancy. Still, the Washington Post reported that staffers at the hospital spent hours debating how to proceed with Watts’s case. Watts left the hospital against medical advice because, she told the doctor, she could “better process what was happening to her at home.” She returned the next day, but left again. Watts ended up miscarrying the fetus at home, into the toilet, which became clogged with blood, tissue and stool.