After Suicide Try Kills Fetus, Woman Faces Life in Prison

Bei Bei Shuai gives her first interview to the 'Guardian'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2012 8:52 AM CDT
After Suicide Try Kills Fetus, Woman Faces Life in Prison
Bei Bei Shuai, 35, left, Indianapolis, hugs her friend, Sue Mak, after Shuai's release on bail from the Marion County Jail in Indianapolis on Tuesday, May 22, 2012.   (AP Photo/Charles D. Wilson)

Bei Bei Shuai, a Chinese immigrant living in Indiana, was distraught when her married lover and the father of her unborn child left her in December 2010. She took rat poison, leaving a suicide note telling him she was "taking this baby with me." Instead, friends took her to the hospital, where doctors saved her life—but could not do the same for her baby, Angel, who was delivered prematurely and died days later in Shuai's arms. Now Shuai faces 45 years to life in prison, after Indiana decided to prosecute her for murdering her fetus. It's the first time Indiana is using its feticide law—which was intended to protect pregnant women from violent third parties—to prosecute a pregnant woman herself.

Shuai spent 435 days in prison and is now out on bail and wearing an ankle bracelet in advance of her December trial; she gave her first interview to the Guardian after her recent release. "I have a strong desire to stay in America," she says. "I knew America as the best country in the world, with the best education system. People get more freedom." Her lawyer insists Shuai was mentally ill at the time she attempted to take her life, and calls the case "absolutely frightening" and a slippery slope: What about mothers who smoke or drink during pregnancy, or those who pass on HIV to their children? But the prosecutor insists Shuai's note is proof that she was not "trying to take her own life," but rather that she was specifically "trying to take the life of her fetus," he says. Click for more on the heart-wrenching story. (Read more Bei Bei Shuai stories.)

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