Oklahoma woman found guilty of manslaughter after suffering miscarriage

KSWO 7 reports that 20-year-old Brittney Poolaw was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter after miscarrying at 17 weeks.

An autopsy report showed that the fetus tested positive for methamphetamine, amphetamine and another drug in the liver and brain.

An OBGYN testified on the stand Tuesday as an expert by the state.

The doctor confirmed the fetus was at the gestational age of about 17 weeks and that methamphetamine use can have an effect on the pregnancy, though he said it may not be the direct cause of death for the fetus. The Medical Examiner detected a congenital abnormality, placental abruption and chorioamnionitis as well.

Just to reiterate: the doctor said that the presence of those drugs may not have killed the fetus. Poolaw was sentenced to four years in prison anyway — not for negligence, but for first-degree manslaughter.

Certainly there will be some people who argue that, because Poolaw may have allegedly been using drugs, this was a unique situation — possibly even deserved! — and not a portent of a future desired by anti-abortion activists. But, as the National Advocates for Pregnant Women point out:

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). And, even when applied to later losses, Oklahoma law prohibits prosecution of the "mother of the unborn child" unless she committed "a crime that caused the death of the unborn child."

In other words: this is absolutely the legal future that some anti-abortion activists want.

Woman found guilty for First-Degree Manslaughter [Tyler Boydston / KSWO ABC 7 News]

Image: Lorie Shaull / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)