Victory for Brittany Watts: Ohio Woman Cleared of Criminal Charges in Home Miscarriage Case

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A grand jury in Ohio has decided not to charge Brittany Watts, a woman from Warren, with abuse of a corpse for her handling of a home miscarriage. The case drew national attention due to its implications for pregnant women as states across the country debate new laws on reproductive health care access following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The Trumbull County prosecutor’s office announced the grand jury’s decision on January 11, just hours before a rally of about 150 supporters gathered in Warren to show their support for Watts. The rally, titled “We Stand With Brittany!”, was already planned before the announcement.

Watts, who addressed the crowd at the rally, expressed gratitude to her community and vowed to continue fighting. Her lawyer, Traci Timko, acknowledged the public’s support, which she said helped Watts endure the distress of being charged with a felony that carried a possible prison sentence of up to one year.

The case against Watts stemmed from an incident where she miscarried at home. She allegedly clogged the toilet and removed the contents to an outdoor trash area before leaving the house, inadvertently leaving the fetus lodged in the pipes. Watts had visited a local hospital twice prior to the miscarriage, but delays and complications prevented her from receiving treatment.

Warren Assistant Prosecutor Lewis Guarnieri argued that the issue was not how or when the fetus died, but rather the fact that Watts left the fetus in the toilet and continued on with her day. However, an autopsy later revealed that the fetus had died in utero and showed no recent injuries.

The grand jury’s decision not to indict Watts was welcomed by organizations advocating for reproductive rights, such as In Our Own Voice, a Black reproductive rights group. They believe that Watts’ case is indicative of the threats and legal challenges faced by Black women and their bodies.

Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights, a group that supported Ohio’s recent amendment to protect reproductive health care, applauded the grand jury’s decision and called for an end to the criminalization of reproductive outcomes.

Watts and her lawyer hope that her story can serve as a catalyst for change through education and legislation, ensuring that no other woman has to prioritize her grief and trauma over fighting for her freedom.

In conclusion, a grand jury in Ohio has declined to charge Brittany Watts with abuse of a corpse for her handling of a home miscarriage. The decision came after a rally in support of Watts and highlights the ongoing debate surrounding reproductive health care access in light of recent changes to abortion laws.