Woman Cleared of Criminal Charges After Miscarriage, Advocates Celebrate Victory for Reproductive Rights

Warren, Ohio – An Ohio woman who faced a criminal charge after suffering a miscarriage at home will not be indicted, according to the decision made by a Trumbull County grand jury on Thursday. The case, which drew criticism from reproductive rights advocates, was dismissed by the grand jury. Brittany Watts, 34, of Warren, Ohio, had been charged with felony abuse of a corpse after she miscarried last September and passed her nonviable fetus in her bathroom.

Watts was initially facing a $2,500 fine and up to a year in prison. However, with the grand jury’s decision, the case has been dropped. Her attorney, Traci Timko, expressed gratitude for the support and stated that justice has been served. Timko also mentioned that Watts will continue to use her experience to advocate for legislation that ensures no other woman in Ohio has to prioritize healing from grief and trauma over fighting for her freedom and reputation.

The charging of Watts in this case sparked widespread criticism across the country and heightened concerns among reproductive rights advocates. Many argued that it was an overreach of the law. The overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022 has resulted in various state laws limiting access to reproductive health care, adding to the anxiety of pregnant individuals nationwide.

Watts had made three visits to Mercy Health-St. Joseph’s Hospital in Warren due to vaginal bleeding before her miscarriage. During her first admission, she was diagnosed with “premature rupture of membranes and severe oligohydramnios,” indicating that she had abnormally low amniotic fluid. Medical staff informed Watts that she was carrying a nonviable fetus and recommended labor induction due to the risk of death. It should be noted that abortions in Ohio are legal until fetal viability, typically around 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Due to delays and other complications, Watts was unable to receive treatment from the hospital. After her miscarriage, the hospital staff notified the Warren Police Department, leading to an investigation. Watts admitted to police that she had removed the fetus from the toilet and placed it in a black bucket before leaving it near the garage. An autopsy later determined that the fetus had died in utero due to severely low amniotic fluid.

The decision not to indict Watts was announced just hours before a rally in Warren, where she spoke to a crowd of about 150 supporters. Numerous reproductive rights groups and activists expressed relief over the outcome of the case, emphasizing the importance of protecting access to reproductive health care. They argued that criminalizing reproductive outcomes undermines women’s rights and creates fear and hesitation when seeking necessary medical care.

In conclusion, an Ohio woman who was charged with felony abuse of a corpse after suffering a miscarriage has been vindicated as a grand jury decided not to indict her. The case drew nationwide attention and highlighted the ongoing battle over access to reproductive health care in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade’s overturning. Watts’ attorney expressed gratitude for the support and emphasized the importance of advocating for legislation to protect women’s rights in Ohio and beyond.