A California woman was jailed on suspicion of causing her stillbirth. Her attorney says prosecution for miscarriages will 'only get worse' under US abortion crackdowns.

  • Attorney Samantha Lee represented a woman charged with murder after her stillborn tested positive for drugs.

  • Chelsea Becker, who struggled with addiction during her pregnancy, was freed from jail after 16 months.

  • Lee told the San Francisco Chronicle she expects similar prosecution for miscarriages "to only get worse."

The attorney who represented a California woman charged with murder after her stillborn baby tested positive for drugs said cases like her clients' will "only get worse" amid a national crackdown on reproductive rights.

Chelsea Becker, who struggled with addiction during her pregnancy, faced murder charges in Kings County after experiencing a stillbirth in 2019, which the DA blamed on her drug use. Though she was unable to raise the $2 million needed to post bail and served 16 months in jail, the charges were ultimately dropped and she was freed in 2021.

Becker's attorney, Samatha Lee of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, told the San Francisco Chronicle her client's case — and a similar 2018 case — are part of a growing national trend of criminalizing pregnant people after stillbirth and miscarriage.

"When that door is opened, then anything someone does or doesn't do during their pregnancy could be charged similarly," Lee told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We're already seeing it, and we expect it to only get worse."

National Advocates for Pregnant Women has found criminal prosecutions against pregnant people have tripled from 2006 to 2020 compared to cases prosecuted from 1973 to 2005. As the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade protections after a draft court opinion was leaked, several states have laws in place to make abortion a criminal offense.

Becker, who had a second child who was placed into foster care and adopted before her release from jail, has since become an advocate for a California bill that would stop pregnancy loss criminalization.

"I hope that in the future, no woman will ever be prosecuted for losing a pregnancy," she wrote in a letter to state lawmakers.

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