Tuesday, December 1, 2020

"Criminalizing reproduction: (Attacks on Science, Medicine and the Right To Choose): New York Review contributor Madelain Schwartz has chosen an apt title for her article on the on-going onslaught on woman's productive rights in America: 'Criminalizing a constitutional right.'..."The last eight months of contagion, illness, and death have forced a public reckoning about the inequalities of health care in this country. Anyone who has spent any time looking at women’s health in the United States would not be surprised. The men who make the laws—and in the cases described, the prosecutors and judges are primarily male—seem to see punishment as their profession and purpose. Punishment for women who have taken control of their bodies, I almost wrote. But were any of these women really in full control of their situations?"

PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "Most troubling of all is a wider criminalization of women’s choices regarding their reproductive health. Our country’s approach to women’s health is marked by a lack of support and an appetite for punishment; jail time over medical care, prosecution over diagnosis. According to Michele Goodwin’s masterful recent study, Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood/ Robust legislating that chips away at reproductive rights and encroaches on women’s reproductive healthcare is about more than abortion. Rather, it is about…the humanity, dignity, and citizenship of girls and women. The National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), a small nonprofit that has led the research and defense of such cases, tabulates that some eight hundred “arrests and equivalent deprivations of liberty” of pregnant women have been made since 2005, for crimes including murder, manslaughter, and feticide. This, they note, is likely a gross underestimate. (In Alabama alone almost five hundred women have been prosecuted for fetal endangerment since 2006, according to an investigation by ProPublica.)"  What do such cases look like? For some months now, I’ve been tracking these stories."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  "Criminalizing reproduction: (Attacks on Science, Medicine and the Right To Choose): I have taken on  'criminalizing reproduction'  - a natural subject matter theme for a Blog concerned with  flawed science in its myriad forms,   and its flawed devotees (like Charles Smith) - as I am utterly opposed to the current movement in the United States and some other countries - towards imprisoning women and their physicians on the basis of sham science (or any other basis). Control over their reproductive lives is far too important to women in America or anywhere else so they can  participate  equally in the economic and social life of their nations without fear for  loss their freedom at the hands of political opportunists and fanatics. I will continue to follow relevant cases such as  Purvi Patel and Bei Bei Shuai, and all too many more - and the mounting wave of  legislative attacks aimed at chipping away at  Roe V. Wade and ultimately dismantling it."

COMMENTARY: "Criminalizing a constitutional right," by Madelain Schwartz, published by The New York Review, on December 3, 2020.  (Madelain Schwartz  is a regular contributer to The New York Review who founded and edits 'The Ballot'. described as a website that covers every 2020 election except the American one.)

SUB-HEADING: "For many Americans, Roe V Wade might as well have been overturned already."

GIST: This disturbing commentary  - boding a very bleak future for women's reproductive rights in America - defies reduction: Here is an excerpt. HL):  "In the absence of clinics, or in view of the cost of the procedure, more and more women administer their abortions themselves. Calculating the exact number of women who do so is difficult, but researchers have tracked both an increase in the number of women who say they have induced their own abortions and an uptick in Google searches for abortion pills. The right to abortion is legally protected, but in much of the country pursuing this right on one’s own is not allowed by law. As of 2019, six states have criminalized self-induced abortions; there are nine states in which fetal harm laws “fail to adequately protect pregnant people from criminalization,” according to the abortion-rights advocacy group If/When/How. Fourteen more have laws that can be applied to women who induce their own abortions. Most of these laws are initiated at the state level with majority-Republican legislatures. While Republican lawmakers may say their aim is not to punish women, court records prove the opposite. If/When/How calculates that there have been at least twenty-one arrests of individuals for ending a pregnancy or helping a loved one do so since 2000. One such woman is Ursula Wing, a Web developer living in New York City. In 2012 Wing described taking an abortion pill. She wrote about it on her blog, “The Macrobiotic Stoner.” In more normal circumstances, she wrote, someone could follow the “the typical, recommended, approved, tested, documented blahblahblah method of chemical abortion in the United States”: go to a clinic, get two drugs, and pay $500 for the experience. “$500,” she wrote. “Are you NUTS? I’ve got a mortgage and a kid to take care of. “It seems to me that the FDA is making what COULD be an easy, private, inexpensive process, a royal pain in the neck,” she continued. “A woman knows when it’s a good time to have a baby, and when it’s not. And this is of greatest consequence to the ultimate health and happiness of our society, and planet.” From about 2016, according to an indictment, she started to provide pills to others. “I believe in action, and civil disobedience,” she wrote in a blog post. She set up a site called “My Secret Bodega.” She pretended she was selling jewelry. “Gold electroplate twisted multi-rope collar necklace” was code for “MTP Kit of 1 mifepristone 200 mg pill and 4 misoprostol 200 mg pills.” She imported the drugs from India and sent them around the world, disguising the packages as shipments of jewelry. The pills were hidden in a small panel taped inside a larger envelope. In 2018 a man named Jeffrey Smith in Wisconsin slipped two abortion pills—ordered by him from Wing’s website—into the drink of a woman he had impregnated. He was charged with an attempted first-degree intentional homicide of an unborn child and delivery of unprescribed prescription drugs in Wisconsin. In February 2019 Wing posted on her blog that FDA agents wearing bullet-proof vests came to the apartment where she lived with her young daughter, her roommate, and her roommate’s son. “I got up and walked through the kids’ room to see a beige and black clad man with a crewcut coming down the stairs,” she continued. “In the movies, people scream at the monsters,” she continued, “but in real life, we get quiet in the face of terror.” As described in the blog post, her roommate took her daughter to school. Wing went to her workplace and told her colleagues she would need to take the rest of the day off. When she returned, she noted that the officers had found “everything they were looking for…the boxes of medication under my desk, and the priority mail envelopes ready to go out, sitting in a tote bag hanging off an open drawer.” She wondered what her neighbors would think. The FDA agents said they’d been told they were there to investigate a rat infestation. Her daughter asked if she was going to jail. “Agent P told me he didn’t think I was the ‘kingpin,’” she later wrote. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” She continued: It’s nearly 2am as I write this, and I’m getting 5-10 emails per day from pregnant women begging me for help. Is this the First World?… What happens when the demands of the few eclipse the needs of the many, in a system that damns more than it saves? Such a system requires lots of enforcement. Surveillance requires enormous manpower, and a police state in which the majority are not in agreement with the rule of law that a few privileged beneficiaries hold dear, consumes too many resources to be sustainable. Can you believe they flew these assholes out from Wisconsin to raid little old me? And put them up in the finest Manhattan hotels, I’m sure. In March Wing pled guilty to “conspiracy to defraud the United States,” a charge that carries a fine of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years. She was sentenced in July to two years of probation, a $10,000 fine, as well as $61,753, the sum of the proceeds found to have been illegally obtained, in civil forfeiture. (My reporting on her case comes from court documents. She declined to be interviewed for this article. It’s no stretch to imagine a future in which access to abortion is even more limited, and maternal health care so scarce that any miscarriage would invite suspicion of actions made newly criminal. Yet the hardships already affecting American women are disturbing enough, and increasingly commonplace. For every person unjustly arrested in connection with childbirth, there are countless numbers who see their lives otherwise ruined or stolen from them by a legal system that favors the potential of the unborn over the reality of life. As recently as this summer, as states tried to further restrict access to abortion by pointing to the pandemic as a pretext to restrict care, women were still asking for help on Ursula Wing’s eight-year-old blog post about abortion pills. Can someone email me If they information [sic] on how to get the pill from the states. I Already ordered from a website…however covid might mean I’ll never receive the package in time. Or as another said, “Does anyone have any extra?? Please I’m desperate!!!!”

The entire commentary can be read at:


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic"  section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com.  Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;
FINAL WORD:  (Applicable to all of our wrongful conviction cases):  "Whenever there is a wrongful conviction, it exposes errors in our criminal legal system, and we hope that this case — and lessons from it — can prevent future injustices."
Lawyer Radha Natarajan:
Executive Director: New England Innocence Project;
FINAL, FINAL WORD (FOR NOW!): "Since its inception, the Innocence Project has pushed the criminal legal system to confront and correct the laws and policies that cause and contribute to wrongful convictions.   They never shied away from the hard cases — the ones involving eyewitness identifications, confessions, and bite marks. Instead, in the course of presenting scientific evidence of innocence, they’ve exposed the unreliability of evidence that was, for centuries, deemed untouchable." So true!
Christina Swarns: Executive Director: The Innocence Project;