Woman miscarries fetus, charged with abusing a corpse

Lewis Guarnieri, an Assistant Prosecutor Attorney at Stark County Prosecutor's Office in Ohio, will be remembered as the man who brought felony "abusing a corpse" charges against a woman who experienced a traumatic miscarriage of a nonviable fetus.

Brittany Watts, 33, was 22 weeks pregnant when she went to an Ohio hospital three times for treatment for vaginal bleeding, reports CNN. After her third visit, she went home and "suffered a tragic and dangerous miscarriage that jeopardized her own life," said her attorney, Traci Timko. The forensic pathologist at the coroner's office concluded that the fetus had died, without injury, in Watts' womb.

It is very important that Watt's be brought to justice for her alleged crime, says Guarnieri. "The issue isn't how the child died, when the child died — it's the fact that the baby was put into a toilet, large enough to clog up a toilet, left in that toilet and she went on [with] her day," Guarnieri said in a court hearing, opportunistically sidestepping the fact that the fetus was non-viable, and in no sense of the word a "child" left to die in a toilet, as he implied in his statement to the judge.

From CNN:

Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights slammed the criminal charge against Watts, saying it would deter other women who suffer miscarriages from seeking medical help.

"As citizens, we are outraged that the criminal justice system is being used to punish Ms. Watts who, like thousands of women each year, spontaneously miscarried a non-viable fetus into a toilet and then flushed," the group said in an open letter to the Trumbull County prosecutor.

"By seeking to indict her, you are clearly implying that anyone who miscarries at any point in pregnancy in our state must retrieve the fetal tissue whether they are at home, at work, at school, at a restaurant or other public place and preserve it until the tissue can be disposed of properly even though Ohio law does not define what a proper disposal method would be. … That fact alone renders your prosecution both unjust and ludicrous," the letter says.

"As physicians we are deeply concerned that your actions will deter women who miscarry from obtaining the medical attention they need and deserve."