In another attempt to incriminate women and regulate their reproductive capacities, the Mississippi Supreme Court may be setting the stage to prosecute women who miscarry or give birth to stillborn infants. According to Mother Jones, the court will soon rule on a case involving Nina Buckhalter, a woman who gave birth to a stillborn infant. Buckhalter has already been accused by a grand jury in Lamar County of “killing” the infant by “culpable negligence.”
The Mississippi Supreme Court, which overheard the case on April 2nd, will rule on the case in the near future. If Buckhalter is convicted, the case could set an incredibly dangerous precedent for future instances of miscarriage and stillbirth, as well as access to abortion care and contraception. If anti-choice activists have their way, they will restrict women's choices by giving fetuses the status of "full personhood." Mississippi state code reflects this notion, defining a human being as "an unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth."
Prosecutors are hoping Buckhalter is convicted, although allegedly, the law was never intended to affect women in circumstances like hers. If the court does not rule in her favor, what will be next? Will we jail women for smoking when pregnant? Consuming too much caffeine? Not taking prenatal vitamins? If all goes well, the court will draw the line in this case, instead of pushing it back.
Kai Niezgoda, NOW Intern