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Updated: 1 year 35 weeks ago

Indiana's Gift to Mothers: Murder Charges for Miscarriages

Thu, 2012-06-07 10:08

Within days of Mothers Day, the Indiana Supreme Court denied Bei Bei Shuai’s motion for
transfer. In so doing, they upheld the ruling of a mid-level appellate court, which says that
feticide and fetal murder laws, intended to punish people who hurt pregnant women and cause
them to miscarry, may be used against a pregnant woman herself. In a staggering disregard for
medical expertise, the Indiana Supreme Court ignored five amicus curiae (friend of the court)
briefs from over 80 organizations, ruling instead that suicide should be a public health issue for
everyone else, but a criminal matter for pregnant women.

This case is not just about one woman. Legal cases set precedent for everyone. Most obviously
this case sets terrible precedent for pregnant women who have mental health problems. This
means that a woman can be arrested and tried for attempted feticide or murder if she cannot put
her depression on hold until after she gives birth. Unfortunately, pregnant women do not have
any more control over their experiences of depression and suicidal ideation than do other people.

Now, in Indiana pregnant women have been singled out for punishment. But let me be absolutely
clear about what this means for women who do things that might expose their fertilized eggs,
embryos or fetuses to risk, who experience pregnancy loss, or who try to terminate a pregnancy.

People wrongly believe that our criminal laws require the state to prove that a person, in their
heart, intended to cause the outcome: pregnancy risk or loss. But in Indiana, law only requires
that you intended to do the act (attempt suicide) or knowingly did the act (knew that she was
attempting suicide while pregnant).

This means that any time a woman, knowing she is pregnant, does or fails to do something
(like refusing cesarean surgery or failing to follow a doctor’s recommendation for bed rest) she
could be charged with a crime. This means that any miscarriage that occurs under “suspicious
circumstances”—including pregnancy losses whether met with a sigh of relief by women
unprepared for a pregnancy or extraordinary pain for the loss of a deeply wanted child—can
become a criminal investigation and conviction with a potential life sentence (45 years). And it
unquestionably means that a pregnant woman who lives in a place where abortion is inaccessible
and tries to take control of her life by terminating her own pregnancy can be tried for murder.

I am pleased to report that this week, after a year of incarceration, Ms. Shuai was finally released
from incarceration in a Marion County jail cell. She is far from free, however. Her release from
required raising and posting a $5,000 bond—half of which will never be returned. She must also
wear an electronic monitor which tracks her movements at all times, and which she must pay for
herself at a cost of $12 per day. She is not free of the serious criminal charges, or the upcoming
ordeal of a murder trial in which every aspect of the most unimaginably painful time in her life
will be recounted in open court and twisted to cast her as a cold-blooded baby killer.

Unimaginable pain is a gross understatement for the layer upon layer of tragedy that Bei Bei
Shuai has endured. Like the dozens of pregnant women who attempt suicide each year, Bei Bei
Shuai never intended to survive her suicide attempt. The anguish she must have felt to try to
end her own life was rivaled only by that of realizing that her attempt has failed and she must

continue to live. And then to have her one hope for the future, her baby daughter Angel, snatched
away from her is a grief so huge it could destroy even the most mentally healthy person. To
now drag her through a trial for murder is an unspeakable cruelty. Angel is gone, and nobody in
the world feels that more intimately than her mother, who underwent cesarean surgery to give
her life and held her in her arms as she passed away. Justice demands that the state drop the
charges against Ms. Shuai. Nothing will be gained by this case except the destruction of the life
of a woman who has already survived the impossible and a judicially-created law that will treat
women who have suffered pregnancy losses as no different from vicious murderers.

But beyond the impact that this will have on one woman’s life is the implication that it has for
any woman of childbearing age. At a recent protest against the War on Women, I saw a sign that
said “We won’t go back to the back alley.” Indiana’s message to us is that even if we manage to
survive the back alley, we have the prison cell to look forward to.

You can make a difference: Sign the petition demanding that charges against Ms. Shuai be

Fox News' Trotta Still Doesn't Get It: I Want Her Rape Apologism Off the Air

Tue, 2012-02-21 13:35

I had mistakenly thought that Fox New's Liz Trotta could not spew anything more hateful or ignorant than last week's broadcast claiming that military women should expect to be raped. How wrong I was.

While Trotta presents a multitude of straw man arguments, each as tempting as the last to chase down the rabbit hole, I will, unlike her, attempt to stay the course with this. This week, she attempts to defend herself from her critics, whom she claims simply do not understand what the military is "really" like. Because we apparently need a journalist to tell us Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen what it's like to be in the military. It is clear from her scripted response that Fox has not required her to read any of the actual complaints. Had she taken the time, she would know that the mass majority of those who spoke out against her are far more aware of our military and how it operates than she.

Trotta boasts of "tours of duty" during various wars in which she was imbedded, again, not as a soldier, but as a journalist. I find it ironic that Ms. Trotta claims to have earned the respect of the troops, the troops she is defaming and the troops who so adamantly want her gone. She says she has nothing but respect and admiration for our nation's service members, yet continues to denounce the contribution of the some 20% who happen to be female and to consider the rest capable of rape. Amazing, coming from someone who, in the same breath, claims to be "very sensitive to the needs of the forces." Which needs would that be, Ms. Trotta? Your supposition on their need to rape when at war?

Her stance could not be more insulting to the many thousands of honorable men who have fought in combat for our nation and would never -- I repeat, never -- do what she claims is a "basic instinct" for men. And the man who raped me never saw a day of combat in his life. There was certainly no "war zone" in Camp Pendleton, California.

Liz Trotta so grossly misses the mark, not only in her understanding of the military, but in her understanding of rape psychology, as to harm the cause of those of us diligently working to actually solve the problem. It is not the "feminists" who are raping men and women in the military. It is not normal, good guys who allow their testosterone to "rule" while on the battlefield. Rape exists, to make it plain and simple, because rapists exist. As I said in my personal letter to Fox News, removing women from our armed forces will only serve to increase the number of male victims. It will not solve the problem.

The only way to solve the problem of rape and sexual assault in the military is to prosecute and imprison the rapists. That's it. To allow them to continue their crimes, claiming it was simply a matter of foregoing the "male/female niceties" when under the pressures of combat, is not just excusing a felony, it's not just telling the victim that's what they deserve for having been in the wrong place at the wrong time -- it is allowing the Department of Defense's statistics, which she loves to quote, to continue to escalate unabated. Rapists are violent, twisted criminals who will not stop until someone stops them. Until we extinguish the misguided and antiquated views of sexual crimes that justify such horrific actions, nothing will change.

It is for this reason that I implore all of you to join me in demanding Fox restore some level of respect by removing this woman from their broadcast. If we all boycott their channels, if we all write letters and make phone calls, they will listen. Please stand up for the many men and women who are survivors of rape and sexual assault, and are continually shamed into silence by those who agree with the sick perspective of Liz Trotta. Let us not allow her a platform to continue to spill out this divisive hate speech any longer. America, civilians and military alike, deserves better.

More than 5,000 people, including many current and former members of the military, have signed the petition to stop Liz Trotta's rape apologism -- will you?

Something different is beginning to happen

Thu, 2012-02-16 17:45

Something different is beginning to happen all over Australia. Every day people are taking a stand on local, state and national issues that matter to them, and they’re winning. launched in Australia six months ago. There was a simple goal -- enable anyone, anywhere, to start, join and win campaigns about issues that are important to them.

In the last few months people have started petitions on leading to incredible results:

  • For the first time ever, Apple has invited independent inspectors to monitor working conditions in its factories after wall-to-wall media coverage in four continents of Mark Shield’s 200,000 strong petition on
  • After 25,000 people joined a Catholic priests’ campaign, the Qld government pledged to end the “gay panic” defence that allowed people to defend murder by claiming the victim was gay and “came onto you” first.
  • A program forcing nurses to pay $18,000 to return to life saving work is reviewed for breaching anti-discrimination laws after over a thousand people join nurse and mother-of-three’s petition.
  • Explosive media coverage and 50+ advertisers pulling out of Kyle Sandilands’ radio program after he made a series of abusive comments.
  • A huge victory for workers at Baiada Poultry -- the main supplier of chicken to Coles -- who have secured safe working conditions and an end to bullying and harassment by management.
  • A family saved from being sent into religious persecution and danger.

Now -- and in just a few short months -- we’re a community of more than 150,000 people, who have together achieved some amazing victories.

Scroll down to see a full description on how individuals started and won these and other recent campaigns.

The idea that anyone can stand up and shape their community shouldn’t be a radical one -- but for too long power has been concentrated in an elite group of companies, politicians and organisations.

We’re only just starting to see what’s possible, but as more and more people take advantage of new tools and technology to come together and work for change, the impact will be tremendous.

You can start a petition about something you want to change at any time -- simply click here to start a petition on right now.


Catholic Priest wins legislative change to end the “gay panic” defence in Queensland

A loophole in Queensland law meant killing someone wasn’t murder if the victim was gay and “came onto you” first. After seeing this defence used to defend a brutal murder in his own Church’s courtyard, Father Paul started a petition calling for it to be abolished. 

In just a few days, 25,000 people signed Father Paul’s petition, and there was front-page coverage in The Courier-Mail, Daily Telegraph, an op-ed published in The Punch (and responded to by the Attorney-General), and features on ABC Radio National and Channel 10’s The Project. 

The explosion of support and media coverage of Father Paul’s campaign forced a policy shift from the government -- they announced changes to legislation that will all but relegate the “gay panic” defence to the history books. 

Mark Shields’ petition forces Apple to invite independent auditors to inspect working conditions in its Chinese factories. 

Conditions at one of the factories producing iPhones and other Apple products has led to workers permanently losing the use of their hands, neurological damage and a rash of suicides. After hearing about it on radio, “cult of mac” fan Mark Shields couldn’t stand for it -- so he started a petition calling for Apple to protect workers making iPhones.

Something incredible followed -- more than 200,000 people signed his petition, a media furore erupted with wall-to-wall coverage across four continents, including some of the worlds largest publications like CNN, BBC, The Guardian, ABC and SBS News.

Last Friday Apple customers delivered the petition to stores in Sydney, New York, Madrid, London, New Dehli and others -- and this week Apple CEO Tim Cook ordered immediate inspections of its Chinese factories, and for the results to be published online.

Nurse and mother-of-three fights to stop nurses being charged $10,000 to return to life-saving work

A dire shortage of nurses is crippling NSW’s health system and putting lives at risk. Yet hundreds of nurses like Sarah Thornthwaite are being forced to pay up to $18,000 in course fees, childcare and travel costs to return to work. 

After taking five years off to raise a family Sarah Thornthwaite was shocked to find that she was being forced out of the job she loves. So Sarah started a petition calling on the Health Minister to stop charging nurses to return to life saving work. 

In a matter of days, more than a thousand people signed her petition, ABC Radio National and the Daily Telegraph picked up the story, and it’s forced the Minister Skinner to personally call Sarah to discuss the program. Pressure continues to grow for the Minister to support nurses returning to work and deliver an affordable and flexible re-training option. 

Kyle Sandilands campaign explodes across Australia

After Kyle Sandilands called a journalist a “fat slag” and threatened to “hunt her down”, grad student Emily Hehir started a petition calling on advertisers to boycott his show.

In just a few days 30,000 people signed her petition and there was wall to wall coverage in the Australian, The Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph, the SMH, the Age and many more. Over 50 advertisers pulled out, including massive brands like Holden, Telstra, McDonalds, and Vodafone.

Industry insiders estimate the radio station responsible for backing Sandilands and his comments has lost more than $10 million in advertising, and pressure continues to grow for Sandilands to be sacked.

Mum of two wins victory for chicken factory workers after taking on Coles
Factory workers at Baiada Poultry were subject to bullying, harassment, pay at less than minimum wage and dangerous conditions. Coles bought 80% of its chicken from these factories -- and young mum Jade Cruse started a petition calling on Coles to suspend purchases until Baiada fixed conditions.

More than 4,000 joined with her and sent messages to senior Coles executives through Jade’s petition, reportedly crashing their email system. A few days later, management at Baiada Poultry caved to every single one of the workers’ demands.

One of the workers' negotiators said that Jade’s campaign was "critical" in getting the outcome, and workers got in touch directly, saying: "[we] send thanks to Jade Cruse and everyone who se nt a petition to Coles through Your voices made a difference."

Small business owner wins intervention and likely permanent visa for valued employee
Tony, Dalia and their 6 year old daughter are Coptic Christians who have been living inAustralia for 7 years -- and the immigration department made a decision to deny their bid for asylum and send them back to Egypt the same week that 21 Copts like them were murdered.

Charlotte Saunders is a small business owner who employed Tony Nahal for much of the last six years. She started a campaign to save the Nahal Family -- appealing to Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to personally intervene and grant them permanent residency. After more than 7,500 people joined her petition, and significant coverage in the Sunday Herald Sun, the Nahals are on their way to being granted permanent residency.

Queensland PHD student changes political discussion on rape survivors
Gavin King is a candidate at the upcoming Queensland state election -- and he has previously suggested that if a woman is raped while drunk, then she’s partly to blame. Sarah Casey is a sexual violence researcher who started a petition calling on his party leader to disendorse him.

Sarah’s campaign took off -- 5,000 people signed her petition, making enormous progress in changing the political dialogue around rape survivors. For the first time ever, Gavin King has made a full and comprehensive apology, and his party has committed to an extra $250,000 a year for a rape crisis centre in Brisbane.