By Shannon Barber | 7 October 2015
The GOP’s War on Women is real, but many people go along about their business of everyday living as if it isn’t. Well, here is a story that should definitely wake those people up.
Amanda Kimbrough lost her son, who was born at just 25 weeks, six years ago. She was sentenced to serve time in a brutally violent women’s prison in Alabama, called Tutwiler, for the “crime” of having a stillbirth. On the birthday of her deceased son, she writes about how she lost him, and how deep her grief is for her child, in a letter from her cell in the prison she never should have been in.
“Tim Jr would be six years old [today], and not a day goes by I don’t think of him. While I was out we keep his grave decorated and kept up, my husband and family do while I’m here.”
So, how, you might ask, does this happen in America? Well, Kimbrough had a battle with substance abuse and the state decided that this was the reason her child was stillborn. That’s not all either. The prosecutors went on an aggressive witch hunt to get Kimbrough convicted of “chemical endangerment” of the fetus and when her lawyer tried to have a medical expert testify that her drug use had nothing to do with the fetus’s death, the request was denied.
Learning that the charge was one akin to murder and she could spend the rest of her life in prison for it, Kimbrough reluctantly took a plea deal, knowing that the state was determined to convict her.
Kimbrough would spend three plus years in a prison that the federal government has repeatedly investigated for violence and prisoner abuse — all because her baby was stillborn.
She finally gained the freedom that never should have been taken from her September of this year.
The thing is that the law that was used to prosecute Amanda Kimbrough was never meant to be used on pregnant women. That law was used to combat the very serious harm of home-run meth labs for children. But, of course, the anti-women fetus fetishists in Alabama started using it to witch hunt pregnant women.
Amanda Kimbrough’s case has set a terrible — not to mention dangerous — precedent: Essentially, any fertile woman who is pregnant or suspected of pregnancy in Alabama can be put through the hell of their so-called “justice” system for a miscarriage.
What the hell are they going to do? Start checking pads and tampons of menstruating women, seeing if they think it’s heavy enough to be a miscarriage? This is outrageous, and the federal government needs to intervene.
The ironic part of all of this is that Amanda Kimbrough was urged to get an abortion, but refused. She is opposed to the practice.
“I am against abortion, I was going to keep my baby no matter what… It’s my baby. I’d do any and everything I could for my kids,” she said.
See, fetus fetishists? You hurt your own with these crazy laws, too.
During the last stint of her prison sentence, Amanda Kimbrough began writing to The Guardian, explaining what happened. How she has three young daughters who have suffered greatly due to her imprisonment, how the Alabama courts pursued her imprisonment relentlessly, how she could not risk being locked up for life, convicted of the equivalent of murder, which is why she took the deal that would sentence her to 10 years, and have her out in three.
Kimbrough’s attorney, Brian White, says that this is a way to promote the dangerous “personhood” view of fertilized eggs, and essentially criminalize pregnancy. Using these laws to go after pregnant women is a “backdoor way to promote the ‘personhood’ agenda – the idea that at any time after conception the fetus should be considered a person with full legal rights,” according to White.
Lynn Paltrow, of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, says:
“States are saying that they know what is best for fertilized eggs, and because they know best they can tell a pregnant women that she’s a criminal and that she must do whatever her doctor – or a social worker, or law enforcement officer, or lawyer appointed to represent her fetus – says.
“They say this protects unborn fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses which have as much right to state protection as children. But there is no way to recognize the separate rights for fetuses without removing women from the protection of the federal constitution.”
Paltrow is right, and the state of things in states with “personhood” laws, like Alabama, prove it. There have been 479 women prosecuted in Alabama alone under these laws, Amanda Kimbrough among them. Kimbrough’s case went all the way up to the Alabama Supreme Court which ruled that the word “child” refers to fetuses as well, viable or not, and, thus, harming them, be it intentionally or not, is a crime.
This case, and the laws that brought it about, should scare women not just in Alabama, but everywhere. Any woman of childbearing age who has a miscarriage is at risk of being sent to prison. Conservatives think fetuses are more important than the living, breathing women who house them.
I hope you are back with your family, Mrs. Kimbrough, and that you can all heal from this ordeal. I am truly sorry, as it never should have happened.
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