A pregnant woman in her 20s who was imprisoned for murder has filed a petition asking for "her release for the sake of an innocent unborn child."
On Feb. 23, foreign media including the BBC, AFP, and the Washington Post reported that Natalia Harrell, 2, who is in prison for second-degree murder in Florida and is awaiting trial, filed a petition through her lawyer last week demanding her release.
On June 24 last year, Harrell, who was then six weeks pregnant, is accused of shooting and killing a woman who was in a van with him.
Harrell pleaded not guilty, saying he "felt threatened by the woman (who died) and shot in self-defense to protect himself and the fetus in his womb," but was eventually jailed.
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Harrell, who has since been in prison and is now eight months pregnant, filed a petition through her attorney claiming that "an innocent fetus was improperly imprisoned" and that she "demands (his) release for the sake of her child."
Harrell's lawyer argued that "the fetus is also a complete person, and when the mother was incarcerated, the child had no decision-making authority," and that "prison guards put the pregnant Harrell at risk by failing to provide proper prenatal care, such as leaving the pregnant Harrell unair-conditioned in a transport vehicle over 8 degrees Celsius or not taking her to hospital appointments."
Harrell's lawyer added: "Harrell has not seen an obstetrician-gynecologist since October last year, and it is likely that her soon-to-be-born child will be born on the concrete floor of the prison without the help of a doctor or paramedic."
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This somewhat absurd-sounding petition is currently hotly debated in the United States. Because Harrell and his counsel's arguments are open to contention.
On June 6 of last year, the U.S. Supreme Court repealed Roe v. Wade, which recognized abortion as a constitutional right before the sixth month of pregnancy in 24.
The idea behind the repeal of the ruling was that "the constitutional right to life of the fetus as a human being is valued more than the right of the pregnant woman to make (abortion) decisions."
In fact, conservative states such as Indiana passed anti-abortion laws to support the "rights of the unborn as human beings."
Harrell's lawyer told AFP that while he drew the line that "the petition has no direct causal relationship to the Supreme Court ruling," he left open the possibility of interpretation, saying it was "influenced (by the Supreme Court)."
Meanwhile, the Miami Department of Correctional Rehabilitation issued a statement saying it was "reviewing all health services to ensure that all prenatal care is appropriate inside the correctional facility," and the Florida Attorney General's Office urged the petition to be dismissed, saying there was "no evidence to support Harrell's claim that she was neglected."