Ohio Grand Jury Drops Felony Abuse of a Fetus Charge Against Black Woman After Miscarriage

Warren, Ohio – A grand jury in Ohio has decided against indicting a Black woman on charges of felony abuse of a corpse following a miscarriage. The grand jury’s decision means that 34-year-old Brittany Watts will not face criminal charges, according to a statement released by the Trumbull County prosecutor’s office. Watts’ attorney, Traci Timko, expressed her satisfaction with the outcome, stating that “justice has been served”.

Watts suffered a miscarriage when she was approximately 22 weeks pregnant after being informed by her doctors that the pregnancy was not viable. The incident occurred on September 22, when Watts had a miscarriage in her bathroom. She then sought medical help at a hospital, leading to police being notified and an investigation being launched. The remains of the pregnancy were discovered at her home. The case was subsequently presented to the grand jury for consideration.

Following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision, Watts expressed gratitude to the Warren community for supporting her during this difficult time. She emphasized her deep connection to the city, having been born and raised there, as well as her determination to continue fighting. Timko echoed Watts’ sentiments, emphasizing that Ohio law did not support the charges against her client.

The law in question, Ohio Revised Code Section 2927.01, prohibits the treatment of a human corpse in a manner that would offend the community’s sensibilities. Timko highlighted this aspect of the law, asserting that the government failed to demonstrate that the situation met the necessary criteria. She argued that those who had expressed outrage did not truly understand what a miscarriage entails.

The case against Watts attracted condemnation from local and national women’s rights organizations. It occurs against the backdrop of Republican-led states seeking to impose restrictions or outright bans on abortion. The conservative-leaning Supreme Court’s recent decision to eliminate federal protections for abortion, overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, has further intensified the debate surrounding reproductive rights in the United States.

Regina Davis Moss, President and CEO of In Our Voice, commented on the case, stating that it represents a clear threat faced by Black women and their bodies. She argued that the incident, which should never have been made public, underscores the challenges Black women encounter within the medical system. Moss claimed that restrictive abortion laws directly contribute to inadequate reproductive healthcare, resulting in traumatic pregnancy and birth experiences.

Ohio’s Physicians for Reproductive Rights also celebrated the grand jury’s decision, viewing it as a step against the concerning trend of criminalizing reproductive outcomes. Marcela Azevedo, President of the organization, emphasized the importance of halting this practice. She cautioned that it not only undermines women’s rights but also poses a threat to public health by instilling fear and hesitation in women seeking necessary medical care during vulnerable moments.

In summary, a grand jury in Ohio has declined to indict Brittany Watts on charges of felony abuse of a corpse following her miscarriage. Watts and her attorney expressed relief at the decision, asserting that justice has been served. The case has drawn attention to ongoing debates surrounding reproductive rights, especially in light of recent efforts to restrict or ban abortion.