Who Is Brittany Watts, Ohio? What Did She Do? A incident involving Brittany Watts has ignited a national discourse on the treatment of pregnant women, particularly women of color, in the aftermath of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade. Brittany Watts, a 33-year-old Black woman, found herself entangled in a legal quagmire after experiencing a heartbreaking miscarriage.
The Heartbreaking Development
Brittany Watts, 21 weeks and 5 days pregnant, was caught in the midst of Ohio’s contentious abortion rights debate when she began passing thick blood clots last fall. Unaware of her pregnancy, Watts made her first prenatal visit to a doctor’s office behind Mercy Health-St. Joseph’s Hospital in Warren, Ohio. The devastating diagnosis revealed a prematurely broken water sac and a nonviable fetus. The doctor advised inducing labor to prevent potential life-threatening complications.
What followed over the next three days was a series of traumatic events, including multiple hospital visits, Watts miscarrying at home, and a subsequent police investigation. Shockingly, Watts, grieving the loss of her unborn child, found herself charged with the abuse of a corpse—a fifth-degree felony with severe penalties.
Legal Limbo Post-Dobbs
The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, overturning Roe v. Wade, has created legal uncertainty, leading to a surge in criminal charges against pregnant women for actions related to their pregnancies. Despite not seeking an abortion, women like Watts are increasingly finding themselves facing criminal charges, revealing a dangerous legal void post-Dobbs.
Racial Disparities in Prosecution
Michele Goodwin, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, and an advocate against pregnancy policing, highlights the long-standing trend of disproportionately targeting Black and brown women. Studies indicate that even before Roe was overturned, Black women seeking prenatal care were ten times more likely to face law enforcement and child protective services interventions compared to their white counterparts.
The Ohio Miscarriage: A Legal Quandary
Watts’ case, while garnering national attention, raises questions about the legal ambiguities surrounding pregnancy-related crimes. At the time of her miscarriage, abortion was legal in Ohio through 21 weeks and six days of pregnancy. However, Watts faced delays at the hospital, contributing to the tragic events that unfolded.
The Prosecutor’s Perspective
Assistant Trumbull County Prosecutor Diane Barber, the lead prosecutor on Watts’ case, underscores the legal complexities surrounding the fetus’s size and stage of development, crucial factors determining the legality of abortion. The abuse-of-corpse statute in Ohio lacks clarity, leaving room for interpretation and raising the critical question of whether a nonviable fetus constitutes a “corpse.”
National Outcry and Legal Defense
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump has brought attention to Watts’ plight, emphasizing the broader issue of post-Dobbs legal challenges faced by pregnant women. A GoFundMe campaign has raised over $100,000 for Watts’ legal defense, medical bills, and trauma counseling.
Details In Short
- Date: December 18, 2023
- Attorney: Benjamin Crump
- Focus: Watts’ legal challenges post-Dobbs decision
- Awareness: Brought attention to Watts’ plight
- Fundraising Platform: GoFundMe
- Campaign Goal: Over $100,000
- Purpose: Legal defense, medical bills, and trauma counseling for Watts
- Legal Climate: Highlighting broader post-Dobbs issues faced by pregnant women
- Support: Nationwide response to the campaign
- Impact: Aids in addressing Watts’ legal and emotional needs
- Call to Action: Encourages public support for women facing similar challenges
- Ongoing: Watts’ case continues to spark a national conversation and support.
The nation grapples with the consequences of a legal landscape reshaped by the Dobbs decision. As Brittany Watts awaits her fate in the hands of a grand jury, the case serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for legal clarity and empathy in addressing the complexities of pregnancy-related issues.
The Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade, leading to legal uncertainties and an increase in criminal charges against pregnant women for actions related to their pregnancies.
Studies indicate a historical trend of racial disparities, with Black women facing increased scrutiny and interventions, even before the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Watts’ case highlights uncertainties in Ohio’s legal framework, including delays in providing care and the lack of clarity in the abuse-of-corpse statute.