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In tales from the “what the fuck is going on?” and/ or another episode of “Let’s demonize women for existing,” or “misogyny gone wild” a black mother in Ohio, Brittany Watts, is facing felony charges after suffering a devastating, near fatal miscarriage.
Brittany Watts is facing felony charges for “abuse of a corpse” after suffering a miscarriage at nearly 22 weeks into her pregnancy, on September 22, 2023. Now, her case is headed to trial. The 33-year-old, Watts, is being accused of miscarrying her pregnancy while using the restroom and then flushing the fetal remains down her toilet. * Newsflash, that’s usually what happens.
According to a GoFundMe page set up to help with mounting legal costs for Watts, “Brittany Watts suffered an agonizing miscarriage in the bathroom of her home in Warren, Ohio on September 22, 2023.
Brittany did nothing to cause her miscarriage. Her doctor had told her that her 21-week pregnancy could not survive, and she would miscarry. When the bleeding and the pain from the impending miscarriage got severe, she did the same thing that many women who miscarry at home do. Brittany went into her bathroom, miscarried into her toilet, and flushed. What happened after that is something that should only happen in Margaret Atwood’s Gilead, and certainly not in the United States of America.
Within hours of Brittany’s admission to the hospital for her life-threatening hemorrhaging, police removed the toilet from Brittany’s home and destroyed it searching for fetal remains. Brittany, a woman with no criminal history, was charged with felony gross abuse of a corpse, even though there is no Ohio law dictating the “proper” disposal method of the remains of a miscarriage. On November 2, Brittany sobbed as she sat in a courtroom listening to police officers describe the details of the most intensely personal moments of her life and then vilify her to the world, all while being recorded by local news media.”
Okay, this is a whole lot of what the actual fuck is going on here. As someone who has suffered a miscarriage (and that is exactly what happens to a woman when she miscarries…she suffers mentally and physically), there are no words to describe the kind of hell a mother endures when she loses her child. This is a deeply personal, painful, and private matter and one in which is difficult to navigate. No one knows what to do in this situation. It happens to you unexpectedly and you try to survive it in the best way you can. Believe me, for the mother, it is almost unbearable.
According to the National Library of Medicine, an estimated 23 million miscarriages occur every year worldwide, translating to 44 pregnancy losses each minute. The pooled risk of miscarriage is 15·3% . Miscarriages happen to women not because of them, so why does the government and legal system want to punish us for what is already so devastating?
To add insult to such a grievous injury, the Ohio legal system is not only blaming the victim (because that is exactly what any mother who miscarries is) for a medical emergency, a fetus that failed to thrive through no fault of the mother; they are actually bringing women up on felony charges. This is one of the most demented and misogynistic things a society can do.
Watts has gone through one of the most painful and life changing experiences any woman can go through and now she is being demonized and prosecuted for disposing of the biological matter. What the fuck was she supposed to do? Women are not taught proper disposal of our miscarried babies when we watch the movie about menstruation in fifth grade! No one teaches us proper sex education in schools, we are taught abstinence in hushed tones and discouraged from asking any questions. We are told that we are sluts and all kinds of other insults if we dare to even inquire or try to educate ourselves and now, we are even blamed and held legally responsible when our pregnancies miscarry. It’s not bad enough that they list miscarriages on insurance bills as missed abortions and that the government has taken away our right to choose, now, they are actively charging women for being a victim of nature’s cruelest punishment.
I’m tired of men making laws on women’s bodies. Men have no idea what it feels like to live in a woman’s body and to suffer being a female. Because yes, for as much as I love being a woman, our misogynistic society keeps us in shackles and punishes us at will for no reason other than what lies between our legs. We are punished daily, in every aspect of our lives, simply for being born with a vagina.
Women are treated like second class citizens. We constantly have everything we say and do questioned, and that’s when we’re not being completely ignored. W are not even given domain over our own bodies. We are leered at and sexualized at every turn from birth till death. Sex is weaponized against us. Rape is a consequence for existing. We can’t even choose when, where, how or if we want to have children. Do you know what giving birth is like? It is the most painful thing a woman can ever endure. It is so painful that it makes you want to die to escape it.
The act of giving birth is one done out of complete love and sacrifice, and we do it over and over again because of that complete and unconditional love we have for our children. But make no mistake, it is no easy task. It is the most difficult and intense experience any human being can go through.
Imagine choosing that, knowing the full weight of that sacrifice, and choosing it over and over again. Then, imagine losing your pregnancy. The emptiness, the sorrow, the void a mother feels is mind bending. The loss of what might have been, the promise of holding and loving your child is mind breaking. The physical pain, the failure of your body, the failure of your child to thrive…so much loss and all that love with nowhere to go. There is nothing as painful in this world as a full heart and empty arms.
I did not miscarry at home. In fact, my pregnancy was intact. I’m not sure if that would make me more or less of a villain in my miscarriage story. My child no longer had a heartbeat. You don’t know devastation until you’ve heard these words uttered to you. My child, who looked absolutely perfect on an ultrasound, had no heartbeat and my body would not let go of it, so I had to have my pregnancy surgically removed. My other option was that I could have taken a wait and see approach and possibly gone septic and have risked death. It was like going through labor with nothing to show for it in the end but a broken heart. So many women must labor only to go home with empty arms and broken hearts…broken hearts that never heal. I left my child behind at the hospital. My child became biomedical waste. No one asked me what I wanted to do with the remains. I was not offered cremation or burial. There was no counseling offered to me. I simply arrived with a pregnancy and left a mother without a child.
In Watts’ case, the miscarriage happened at home. The fetus’ remains were uncovered by local law enforcement on Sept. 22, per the Warren Police Department, after they removed the toilet from her home and tested it for fetal matter.
Now, Watts faces this felony charge even AFTER a forensic pathologist testified last month that her fetus was not born alive and died before passing through the birth canal; further, he said the fetus was “nonviable because [Watts] had premature ruptured membranes—her water had broken early—and the fetus was too young to be delivered.” Watts’ defense attorney, Tracy Timko, told media last month that her client “learned days before” her miscarriage that this outcome “was inevitable and that the fetus could not survive outside the womb due to gestational age.”
None of this makes sense. None of this vilification of this mother is logical or reasonable. Brittany Watts should not be on trial, Ohio should be on trial for the cruel and unusual punishment of a living, human woman.