The country’s war against Roe v. Wade has taken a complicated turn in the case of Brittany Watts, 33, a Warren, Ohio woman headed to grand jury on charges that she allegedly attempted to discard the remains of her baby.
Watts was handed a felony charge after the traumatizing events of Sept. 22, when she sat on the toilet at 22 weeks of pregnancy and felt the baby passing through, according to the Warren Police Department. Watts heard a “big splash,” a detective said in court last month. By the time police responded to her home, they said the fetus’ remains were stuck in the toilet.
Prosecutors practically made Watts out to be a monster, saying she tried to “plunge” the fetus down the drain and left the child floating in the basin while going about her day. However, Watts’ attorneys say she’s being punished for a rather normal occurrence: The Lancet found in a 2021 report Black women had a 43 percent higher risk of miscarrying in comparison to white women.
The case was closed on Nov. 2 but was reopened, according to the court docket. Warren Municipal Court Judge Terry Inavchak found probable cause to move the case forward, seeking more experts to confirm at what point something — in this case, the baby — becomes viable, per WKBN’s report.
A medical expert’s testimony lat month suggests the baby wasn’t viable at the time of the incident.
Read more from WKBN News:
Forensic pathologist Dr. George Sterbenz testified an autopsy found no injury to the fetus, and that the unborn fetus had died before passing through the birth canal. He said Watts’ medical records showed she visited the hospital twice before the delivery.
“This fetus was going to be non-viable. It was going to be non-viable because she had premature ruptured membranes — her water had broken early — and the fetus was too young to be delivered,” Sterbenz said.
Watts is now out on $5,000 bond and facing a felony abuse-of-corpse charge, according to court records. She entered a not guilty plea. If convicted, she could face two years in prison.
An indigenous woman in Oklahoma is currently serving a four-year term for a similar incident. In 2021, 21-year-old Brittney Poolaw was convicted of first-degree manslaughter for having a miscarriage prosecutors say was a result of drug use.
In a statement, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, now known as Pregnancy Justice, said Oklahoma’s murder statutes don’t apply to miscarriages that occur before 20 weeks of pregnancy, via CBS News.
It’s unclear if this statute could support Watts over in Ohio.