Bei Bei Shuai, Imprisoned For Attempting Suicide While Pregnant, Finally Released

05/22/2012 2:20 PM |


If you haven’t been following the Bei Bei Shaui case, it is chilling example of the many (unintended? I guess it’s hard to say at this point) effects that “war on women” legislative overreach has on women’s lives. Shaui, who was suffering from depression during her pregnancy, attempted to take her own life by swallowing rat poison.

In December 2010 Shuai was running a Chinese restaurant in Indianapolis with her boyfriend, Zhiliang Guan, by whom she was eight months pregnant. Just before Christmas, he informed her that he was married and had another family, to which he was returning. When Shuai begged him to stay, he threw money at her and left her weeping on her knees in a parking lot. [The Nation]

Luckily, she survived. Unfortunately, her fetus did not:

Although Ms. Shuai did everything she could, including undergoing cesarean surgery, to ensure that her baby survived, her newborn died shortly after birth.

Ms. Shuai was arrested for the crime of murder (defined to include viable fetuses) and feticide (defined to include ending a human pregnancy at any stage). The sentence for murder can be the death penalty or 45 years-to-life. The sentence for attempted feticide is up to 20 years. Both of these kinds of laws are promoted and supported by “pro-life” organizations. []

Today, after spending more than a year in jail, she was finally released. We value the lives of women so little that we criminalize any mental illness that endangers their roles as baby incubators. Under Indiana law, she was facing 45-65 years in jail. The law that put her away is still on the books, and pro-lifers want more of them. Women who miscarry can be subject to police investigation. It’s getting very, very scary out there.

I guess if you consider losing your partner, child, and spending only a year in jail for it a happy ending, then Bei Bei Shaui deserves congratulations. I think she deserves an apology, and I hope she’s able to heal from all of this. Let’s hope the next woman who has something awful happen to her is as “lucky.”