This seems like a pretty big deal, not because it sets a precedent or anything close to it, but because it leaves unresolved questions that might bring more such cases in the future:
On Friday, Indiana prosecutors announced that they would drop all charges of murder and attempted feticide against the Indianapolis woman who tried to to take her own life by eating rat poisoning near the end of her pregnancy. Reuters reports that 36-year-old Bei Bei Shuai was sentenced to time served and consequently freed by Marion Country Superior Court after pleading guilty of criminal recklessness in the death of her daughter.
From the beginning, I have been convinced that this case was not a criminal case. It should never have been filed," Linda Pence, her attorney, told the Indianapolis Star.
Shuai, who was charged with knowingly killing a viable fetus in March 2011 and released from prison on bond in May 2012, attempted to take her own life in the 33rd week of her pregnancy after her boyfriend left her, according to a police statement.
Prosecutors said that Shuai's daughter, Angel, was born alive but in critical condition about ten days after the mother was hospitalized for eating rat poison. Angel died a few days after she was taken off life support.
I have mixed feelings. Angel had reached the age of viability, so we're not talking about a few clumps of embryonic tissue here. A baby died. On the other hand, Shuai was depressed and suicidal, and I doubt if her main thought was of getting rid of the baby. I don't know if the way she was treated by the justice system will, indeed, keep others in the same situation from seeking the help they need, but those in a suicidal mood are fragile enough to be set off by a number of things that wouldn't occur to the rest of us. In the end, the court sentenced her to time served. I'm OK with that.