A Mississippi woman who has been charged with second-degree murder for the death of her newborn after stillbirth, has sparked a discussion on the criminalization of women of color for pregnancy outcomes.
Latice Fisher is currently in custody in the Oktibbeha County Jail with bond set at $100,000. She has pleaded not guilty to the murder of her newborn, but prosecutors claim she caused the fetus’ death. If found guilty, she could face 20 to 40 years, or life, in prison.
The incident occurred back in April 2017. In a report from Rewire, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) arrived at Fisher’s home and found the fetus in the toilet “covered with feces and blood” with the umbilical cord attached. The EMT removed the baby from the toilet and estimated it “appeared to be greater than 35 weeks in gestation, and that it weighed approximately six pounds.” The baby had no heartbeat and was blue when EMTs arrived.
The Mississippi State Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy on the fetus and found there was “no identifiable evidence of external or internal traumatic injury” that would have contributed to the death.
Still, prosecutors claim that Fisher told investigators she “didn’t want any more kids, that she couldn’t afford any more kids, and that she simply couldn’t deal with being pregnant again.” Prosecutors also reviewed Fisher’s cell phone data and found internet searches for terms including “buy abortion pills.”
However, some have spoken out against Fisher’s incarceration.
“This is a prosecution in search of a theory, in search of justification for locking up a hardworking mother of three,” Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, said.
Dr. Leah Torres, a Utah-based OB/GYN who provides abortion and reproductive health care, also added that Fisher’s case seems to be “wrought with invasion of privacy,” and that prosecutors are making unnecessary conclusions.
“Using the abortion pill most likely would not have caused in utero death,” Torres said on Fisher searching abortion pills. “Using [misoprostol] most likely would have cause[d] labor to begin, and fetuses can die during labor if not monitored.”
“The baby may very well have died during the labor process, before it was delivered outside of her body,” Torres continued. “Laboring in a hospital is safer than laboring at home for this very reason, yet we don’t arrest midwives when they bring in patients with dead fetuses who were laboring at home.”