US woman found guilty of manslaughter after suffering a miscarriage

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US woman found guilty of manslaughter after suffering a miscarriage

WARNING – distressing content

A 21-year-old woman in the US has been found guilty of first-degree manslaughter after suffering a miscarriage last year.

Oklahoma woman Brittney Poolaw was sentenced to four years in prison for her 2020 miscarriage, according to local news agency KSWO.

An autopsy on the unborn child showed it had passed away at 17 weeks gestation.

Last year, according to police, the then-19 year-old Poolaw miscarried at home in early 2020 and was brought to the Comanche County Memorial Hospital with the umbilical cord still attached.

Poolaw told medical staff she had used both methamphetamines and marijuana while she’d been pregnant.

She told police she smoked marijuana and used meth intravenously as late as two days before her miscarriage.

Prosecutors blamed the miscarriage on Poolaw’s drug abuse, however advocates for the mother, including the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, have argued that her conviction is not in line with the law.

“Oklahoma’s murder and manslaughter laws do not apply to miscarriages, which are pregnancy losses that occur before 20 weeks, a point in pregnancy before a fetus is viable (able to survive outside of the womb),” said the NAPW, a non-profit advocacy organisation, in a statement on Wednesday.

US woman found guilty of manslaughter after suffering a miscarriage

Brittney Poolaw was jailed for four years for the manslaughter of her unborn child. Photo / Comanche County Detention Center

Under the law, a mother cannot be prosecuted for causing the death of their unborn child “unless the mother committed a crime” that caused its death.

Despite this, a jury foud her guilty of manslaughter.

The medical examiner’s report listed the unborn child’s cause of death as intrauterine fetal demise due to maternal meth use, the Constitution reported.

A toxicology report on the fetus showed the brain and liver had tested positive for meth and amphetamine.

At trial, a doctor who specialises in women’s reproductive health testified for the state that drugs had an effect on the pregnancy though he said it may not be the direct cause of death.

The jury took just three hours to convict Poolaw.

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