The woman was under the influence of drugs at the time, which is why the prosecutors claim that is what caused the miscarriage.
Trigger Warning: This story talks about miscarriage which may be disturbing for readers.
A 21-year-old woman from Oklahoma suffered a miscarriage in 2020, and for that, she's been charged with first-degree murder, reports PEOPLE. On October 5, 2021, Brittney Poolaw was sentenced to four years in prison for miscarriage after an autopsy on the unborn child revealed it had died at 17 weeks gestation.
Prosecutors on the case claimed that it was Poolaw's drug use that resulted in the termination of the pregnancy, as she was accused of causing her child to be stillborn on Jan. 4, 2020, due to her intravenous methamphetamine use, per the Lawton Constitution.
However, groups such as the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, have argued that her conviction is not in line with the law. "Oklahoma's murder and manslaughter laws do not apply to miscarriages, which are pregnancy losses that occur before 20 weeks, a point in pregnancy before a fetus is viable (able to survive outside of the womb)," said the NAPW, through a statement.
Native American Woman In Oklahoma Convicted Of Manslaughter Over Miscarriage— Ruth H. Hopkins (Red Road Woman) (@Ruth_HHopkins) October 16, 2021
Brittney Poolaw faces four years in prison for a miscarriage she suffered less than halfway through her pregnancy.https://t.co/g8Y677MODz
The law also states that it prohibits prosecution of the “mother of the unborn child” unless she committed “a crime that caused the death of the unborn child.”
According to an affidavit, the woman, who was 19 at the time, was taken to Comanche County Memorial Hospital after she reportedly gave birth at home. The medical examiner's report listed the unborn child's cause of death as intrauterine fetal demise due to maternal meth use, and Poolaw then admitted to medical staff she had consumed meth and marijuana and tested positive for both. A toxicology report on the fetus confirmed Poolaw's statement, as the brain and liver had tested positive for meth and amphetamine.
However, during the trial, an OB-GYN said that these substances may not have directly resulted in the unborn child's death. The NAPW also argued that blaming Poolaw's miscarriage on her drug use is "contrary to all medical science."
SEND A DIGITAL NOTE TO SUPPORT WOMEN— mocha jane (@peapodmcgee) October 16, 2021
On October 5, Brittney Poolaw, a 20Yo Oklahoma woman, was convicted of manslaughter in the first degree for experiencing a miscarriage at 17 weeks & sentenced to 4y in state prison. Easily send Brittney a note here👇https://t.co/cx85scrHgP
"Not even the medical examiner's report identifies the use of controlled substances as the cause of the miscarriage," the organization said in the statement. "Even with this lack of evidence, the prosecutor moved forward with the charge."
The court set a $20,000 bond for Poolaw, who has been in jail since she was first arrested, which is "a tragedy," states the NAPW. "This use of prosecutorial discretion directly conflicts with the recommendations of every major medical organization, including the American Academy of Pediatrics," the non-profit said, "all of which know that such prosecutions actually increase risks of harm to maternal and child health."
Cover Image Source (Representative): Getty Images | Cristian Ibaez | EyeEm