The California attorney general has used his support to overturn a murder charge against a woman who gave birth to a stillborn baby with toxic methamphetamine levels in her system.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed an amicus letter on Friday supporting an offer from Chelsea Becker to end prosecution for a stillbirth in September 2019. The 26-year-old Becker has been detained since November.
"Our laws in California do not condemn women suffering from pregnancy loss, and in our filing today we make it clear that this law has been misused to the detriment of women, children and families," Becerra said in a statement. allege that the local district attorney "misapplied and misinterpreted" a state law against the deliberate killing of a fetus.
"We will work to end the prosecution and detention of Ms. Becker so we can focus on applying this law to those who put the lives of pregnant women at risk," said the attorney general.
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Becker has been in Kings County Jail in Hanford, about 30 miles south of Fresno, on $ 2 million bail since her arrest in November.
In a press release, police said they admitted to using methamphetamine three days before the stillbirth and that an autopsy of the stillborn child revealed that his system had toxic levels of methamphetamine. Becker had previously lost custody of several children due to drug use, the police said.
Kings County District Attorney Keith L. Fagundes could not be reached immediately for comment on Saturday.
The prosecutor told the Los Angeles Times that he hadn't seen the attorney general's assignment until Friday afternoon.
"It is shocking to me that the attorney general's office took a position without ever contacting our firm, without admitting whether they read police reports, without discussing these questions to say what makes this [case] different" Fagundes told the Times. "And unfortunately the petitioner is trying to put this in relation to a reproductive rights case and that is not the point."
Fagundes added, "We are not sitting here to imprison miscarriages … but there are certain behaviors that a government should not participate in that allow people to use drugs at levels that are convenient for them and others is harmful. "
Becerra argues in the Amicus Brief that state law against the murder of a fetus does not apply to women whose actions result in loss of pregnancy.
Two doctors, who wrote a letter to the courts in support of Becker, said their arrest "appears to suggest that pregnant women can guarantee healthy birth outcomes and therefore can be criminally held responsible for failing to do so."
Drs. Mishka Terplan and Tricia Wright, who reported having expertise in obstetrics, gynecology and substance abuse, wrote in the January letter: "We are deeply concerned that medical misinformation could be the reason they [Becker] currently sitting in jail, including unsupported belief that substance use disorders should be treated as dangerous. "