Statement of National Advocates for Pregnant Women Opposing Arrest of Georgia Woman as Murderer for Home Abortion Attempt
According to Georgia prosecutors, 23-year-old Kenlissia Jones has been arrested and is being held without bond, facing a possible charge of "malice murder," based on the claim that she used misoprostol, a medication with the brand name Cytotec, to terminate her own pregnancy.
There are no criminal statutes in Georgia that permit punishment of women based on pregnancy or pregnancy outcomes -- and the constitution, as well as human rights principles, prohibit such punitive laws directed to pregnant women.
The arrest of Ms. Jones, the arrest of Anne Bynum in Arkansas for "concealing a birth" and "abuse of a corpse" on the basis that she took medication at home to terminate her pregnancy, and the conviction of Purvi Patel in Indiana, confirm that anti-abortion laws and legal strategies will be used to punish the women who have or attempt to have abortions, or who have miscarriages and stillbirths.
We call on leading anti-abortion organizations, who have publicly and repeatedly said that they oppose punishing women for having abortions, to stand with Kenlissia Jones and against the growing use of criminal laws to punish women for abortions or pregnancy outcomes.
People who seek medical attention for any aspect of pregnancy -- including prenatal care, labor and delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion -- should not fear arrest. There is no role for police or prosecutors in reproductive health. Public health, fairness to pregnant women, and fundamental principles of human rights and dignity prohibit the use of state power to arrest and punish women for being pregnant and for the outcomes of their pregnancies.
National Advocates for Pregnant Women is a non-profit legal advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the health, rights, and dignity of all pregnant and parenting women. Since its founding in 2001, NAPW has participated in cases across the country in which pregnant women have been criminally charged based on their pregnancies or outcome of their pregnancies. NAPW's 2013 study, published in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law, documented 413 such cases from 1973 to 2005, and demonstrates that laws that create a separate legal status for fetuses are used to punish pregnant women.