Chelsea Becker is a 26-year old woman who delivered a stillborn child last year in California. This may seem a very unfortunate case and one that generates a great amount of sympathy for the lady. But this story is more complex. When the autopsy was done on the foetus, methamphetamine, popularly called meth, was found at toxic levels in its system.
This led authorities to deem the death of the unborn child a homicide and issue a warrant for the arrest of Becker. The young lady was arrested in November last year and has been in jail since. She accepted that she had consumed the popular recreational drug three days before the delivery.
What makes her case worse is the fact that she has a chequered past relating to children. Becker has had children in the past whose custody she ended up losing. She has been charged with first-degree murder and has been lodged in the Kings County Jail of Hanford, California. The value of bail bond has been set at $2 million for Becker, in other words, well beyond her capacity.
Support for Becker
However, there is now hope for the jailed lady. The Attorney General of California has now come out in support of Becker and has filed an amicus brief in which he has supported Becker's appeal to close the entire case against her. Xavier Becerra, the Attorney General, has attributed the arrest of the accused to a misinterpretation of Section 187 of California Penal Code.
"Our laws in California do not convict women who suffer the loss of their pregnancy, and in our filing today we are making clear that this law has been misused to the detriment of women, children, and families," AG Becerra said in a statement. He believes the District Attorney "misapplied and misinterpreted" the law.
Becker has also received support from two female doctors who wrote to the court that arresting her "seems to assume that pregnant women can guarantee healthy birth outcomes and therefore may be held criminally responsible if they do not."
The District Attorney of Kings County Keith Fagundes is unhappy with the conduct of the AG. "It's shocking to me the attorney general's office has taken a position without ever having contacted our office, without admitting whether they've read any police reports, without discussing these issues to say what makes this (case) different," he told Los Angeles Times.
The murder law in California was amended in 1970 to include foetuses as possible victims. However, this case would become another battleground for the ideological debate over women's reproductive rights and abortion. This is despite the fact that the DA insists this case is not related to these issues.