A Salt Lake City woman who refused to have a Caesarean section to save the life of her unborn twins has been charged with first- degree murder after one of them was stillborn. Prosecutors have alleged that Melissa Ann Rowland, 28, wanted to avoid a C-section scar for cosmetic reasons. The details of the case are sketchy from news reports, but Ms Rowland appears to be an unmarried, overweight substance abuser who already has some children. She seems bewildered by her arrest.
Ms Rowland’s plight has attracted nation-wide attention both from pro-life groups who see their ideas on the foetus’s right to life confirmed, and from feminists who fear that women’s rights over their bodies might be restricted.
Although a charge of murder seems exceptionally harsh, the Utah Supreme Court recently ruled that unborn children at all stages of development are covered under the state’s criminal homicide law, with the exception of the death of a foetus due to abortion. The law has been used to prosecute women whose children are harmed by their drug addiction, but never women who have refused to take a doctor’s advice.
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