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Media Conference Call Recording: Implications of the Bei Bei Shuai Case for Women and Roe

Listen to a recording of the media conference call on the implications of the Bei Bei Shuai case:



Audio press conference on implications for pregnant women, and Roe v. Wade, of Indiana Supreme Court decision denying motion for transfer in the case of Bei Bei Shuai.

When: Thursday, May 17th, 2012
11:00 am ET
Who:  Co-sponsored by Rewire and National Advocates for Pregnant Women
Moderator: Jodi L. Jacobson, Editor in Chief, Rewire

Lynn M. Paltrow, JD, Founder and Executive Director, National Advocates for Pregnant Women.

Emma Ketteringham, JD, Director of Legal Advocacy for National Advocates for Pregnant Women.

Christine Taylor, mother of four and a Direct Care worker for people with mental illness and those who are intellectually disabled. In 2010, Ms. Taylor was arrested for attempted fetal homicide after falling down a flight of stairs while pregnant, on the same legal theory used in the Bei Bei Shuai case.

More about the Speakers

Lynn M. Paltrow, JD, Executive Director, founded National Advocates for Pregnant Women in 2001. Ms. Paltrow is a graduate of Cornell University and New York University School of Law. She has worked on numerous cases challenging restrictions on the right to choose abortion as well cases opposing the prosecution and punishment of pregnant women seeking to continue their pregnancies to term. Ms. Paltrow has served as a senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, as Director of Special Litigation at the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, and as Vice President for Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of New York City. Ms. Paltrow conceived of and filed the first affirmative federal civil rights challenge to a hospital policy of searching pregnant women for evidence of drug use and turning that information over to the police. In the case of Ferguson et. al., v. City of Charleston et. al., the United States Supreme Court agreed that such a policy violates the 4th amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Emma Ketteringham, JD, is Director of Legal Advocacy for National Advocates for Pregnant Women. Prior to working for NAPW Ms. Ketteringham worked at The Bronx Defenders, where she was a criminal defense attorney and then  Deputy Managing Attorney of the family law practice. At The Bronx Defenders, Ms. Ketteringham trained and supervised attorneys who represented parents in abuse, neglect and termination of parental rights proceedings. She also participated in numerous court-based and independent coalitions to develop pro-family policies and practices in New York City Family Court. Previously, Ms. Ketteringham was a litigation associate at Lansner and Kubitschek where she represented parents and children in state and federal court and at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, where she worked on complex civil litigation. Ms. Ketteringham clerked for two federal judges, first in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, then at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She has also worked as a Legal Assistant at the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League and as a law clerk at the American Civil Liberties Union for Southern California. She is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and holds a B.A. in Political Science from Trinity College.

Christine Taylor is a mother of four. She lives with her children in Iowa. She is a Direct Care worker for people with mental illness and those who are intellectually disabled. She is also a student at Southeastern Iowa Community College, studying for her associates degree.  In 2010, Ms. Taylor was arrested for attempted fetal homicide after falling down a flight of stairs while pregnant. Hospital staff called the police alleging that she had intentionally fallen down the stairs. She was arrested and charged with attempted fetal homicide on the same legal theory used in the Bei Bei Shuai case. Ms. Taylor  was prevented from going home to her children and was instead incarcerated for two days before police released her. The charge, was eventually dropped, but not because state authorities recognized that the fetal homicide law was intended to punish third parties who attack pregnant women, not pregnant women themselves. Authorities stated that they were dropping the charges because  Ms. Taylor was in her second trimester of pregnancy rather than her third trimester when she experienced the fall. Ms. Taylor now has this arrest on her record. She continues to speak out against the injustice of the arrest and the violations of her medical and personal privacy she experienced when she sought medical help while pregnant.


In 2010, Bei Bei Shuai, a pregnant woman living in Indiana became so depressed that she attempted to end her own life. With help from friends who intervened, however, she survived. 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. Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has said that the “pro-life movement is not out to punish women.” Yet, as of today, Ms. Shuai, has been in prison for 14 months, and punished for an entire year. (Bail is not allowed when the charge is murder).

Last week, the Indiana Supreme Court denied Bei Bei Shuai’s motion for transfer. In so doing, they upheld the ruling of the mid-level appellate court, which said that feticide and fetal murder laws — intended to punish people who hurt pregnant women and cause them to miscarry — can be used against a pregnant woman herself.

Legal experts conclude that this case creates a dangerous precedent in Indiana with consequences reaching far beyond suicide attempts. If it goes forward, women who risk their lives and health by becoming pregnant, may then be arrested as criminals if they engage in any intentional act that law enforcement believes will threaten the life or health of the fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses they carry.