The medical organization that advocated for the reproductive rights amendment in Ohio is now requesting that a prosecutor dismiss the charges against a woman who had a miscarriage while using her personal lavatory.
A nonpartisan alliance of 4,000 physicians and others argued that the 33-year-old Brittany Watts’ abuse-of-corpse allegation violates “the spirit and word” of Issue 1.
The bill protects a person’s “freedom to make and carry out one’s own reproductive choices.” It passed with 57% of the vote in November. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022, which long permitted abortion nationwide, Ohio has been the seventh state in a row to vote in favor of reproductive rights.
Watts had a home miscarriage on September 22nd, only days after a doctor informed her that her unborn child had a heartbeat but would not survive. She went to Warren’s Mercy Health-St. Joseph’s Hospital twice, but each time she departed without getting treatment. According to her lawyer, she felt criticized, worried, and left waiting for long periods of time.
When Watts returned that Friday, no longer pregnant and bleeding, she told a nurse that her baby was in a bucket in the backyard. The nurse called the police.
The 22-week-old fetus was discovered jammed in the pipes and the toilet was blocked when the police arrived at her residence.
After Watts failed to plunge the toilet, she dumped the overflow into a bucket, placed it outside beside the garbage can, and “continued on (with) her day,” according to the city prosecutor who testified before a municipal magistrate.
Watts is facing charges under a legislation that forbids the handling of “a human body” in a manner that would “outrage” normal community or family sensitivities. Violators face a $2,500 fine and a maximum sentence of one year in jail for a fifth-degree felony offense.
Watts is being unfairly “demonized for something that goes on every day,” according to her lawyer Traci Timko.
Dr. Lauren Beene, executive director of the physicians’ group, wrote to the court that the nurse caring for Ms. Watts should never have called the police and had them raid her home while she was in the hospital. She said Prosecutor Watkins has a chance to make history by being the first person of authority to act morally since the start of this catastrophe.
Per Beene, the Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights are worried that this case would discourage other women from getting help while they’re having a miscarriage. Additionally, the group reached out to the mayor, legal director, and members of the Warren city council with a letter dated December 15th, aiming to garner support for dismissing the charges against Watts.