Brittany Watts, Black Woman Who Miscarried Child, Will Not Be Criminally Prosecuted

The Ohio woman was charged with ‘abuse of a corpse' following her miscarriage.

An Ohio woman who suffered a miscarriage will not be charged with felony abuse of a corpse, officials said on Thursday (Jan.11).

CBS News reports that the grand jury returned a "no bill" decision, dismissing the indictment in the Trumbull County case against Brittany Watts after convening for two days.

The ruling was handed down hours before around 150 supporters gathered for a “We Stand With Brittany!” rally that was held at the Warren County Courthouse Square.

After the decision, Watts addressed her supporters.

“I want to thank my community — Warren. Warren, Ohio. I was born here. I was raised here,” Warren said. “I graduated high school here, and I’m going to continue to stay here because I have to continue to fight.”

Traci Timko, Watts’ attorney said that her client was “demonized for something that takes place in the privacy of (women’s) homes regularly,” CNN reported.

“While the last three months have been agonizing, we are incredibly grateful and relieved that Justice was handed down by the grand jury today,” Timko said. “To the countless women who reached out to share their own devastating stories of pregnancy loss- Brittany read every one of them and felt a sisterhood to each of you. The emails, letters, calls, donations, and prayers- they all played a part in empowering and getting her through each day.”

A felony charge was filed against Watts following a miscarriage that she suffered 21 weeks into her pregnancy. According to the report, she began passing thick blood clots and alerted her physician about her health issues in September 2023. 

Study: Black Women Have Highest Maternal Mortality Rate As Deaths Doubled Across U.S. Since 1999

She was informed that there was a great chance that the baby would not survive because her water had broken prematurely.

After going to the hospital three times, she miscarried in her toilet at home. The results of an autopsy confirmed “that the fetus had died in the womb.”

Eventually, Watts flushed and plunged her toilet, which led to a police investigation when law enforcement officials discovered the remains of the fetus in the pipes.

On October 4, she was charged with abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony where she faced up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

The case caused a groundswell of controversy as it spotlighted the devastating effects of the Supreme Court overturning of Roe vs. Wade and the future of women’s reproductive rights.

"This 33-year-old girl with no criminal record is demonized for something that goes on every day," Watts' attorney, Traci Timko,

In Our Own Voice, a Black reproductive rights group released a statement applauding the decision.

“What happened to Brittany Watts is a grave example of how Black women and their bodies face legal threats simply for existing,” president and CEO Dr. Regina Davis Moss said in a statement. “Her story is one that is becoming alarmingly common: in states with abortion restrictions, Black women, girls, and gender-expansive people are being surveilled, arrested, prosecuted and punished for pregnancy loss.”

Watts’ case also highlighted the need to combat  Black maternal mortality.

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control, Black women are three times more likely to die due to a pregnancy-related issue than White women, because of “quality health care, underlying health conditions, structural racism and implicit bias.”

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