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Grand jury declines to indict Black Warren, Ohio woman who miscarried and was charged with a felony.-Women's March Cleveland says the prosecution was racist from the start....By Clevelandurbannews.com, Ohio's Black digital news leader

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Staff article:

CLEVELAND, Ohio-A Trumbull County grand jury has declined  to indict a young, Black woman from Warren, Ohio who miscarried at some 22 weeks of pregnancy and was charged by the city with felony corpse abuse. The controversy grew to include claims from activist women's groups in Ohio that the prosecution was motivated by racial animus.

The grand jury issued a no bill in the case that has drawn national attention and angered women's rights groups like Women's March Cleveland, the largest grassroots women's rights activist group in Northeast, Ohio.

Prosecutors and police charged Brittanny Watts, 33 and of Warren, Ohio, with felony corpse abuse, accusing her of attempting to plunge the toilet after her miscarriage. A judge ordered a bind-over of the case to felony court and prosecutors submitted the case to a Trumbull, County grand jury, obviously to no avail.

The city of Warren is roughly 60 miles southeast of Cleveland and is 28 percent Black.

According to Warren police, Watts, who has no criminal record and  miscarried at home, should have wrapped up the lifeless fetus and delivered the remains to police headquarters, which activists say is absurd.

Women's March Cleveland had called for the felony charge to be immediately dismissed, saying the charge at issue was racist and that the woman was purportedly being targeted by police and prosecutors because she is Black, and for political reasons.

" This case has racial implications for sure and we are pleased that the grand jury saw through the racism as we continue to be concerned about racist and malicious prosecutions of Black pregnant women in Ohio," said Women's March Cleveland head organizer Kathy Wray Coleman, a longtime Black Cleveland activist, digital journalist and community organizer.

Ohio voters passed Issue 1 on Nov. 7, a statewide measure pushed by Democrats and activist women's rights groups like Women's March Cleveland and aggressively opposed by key Republican leaders in the state that codified the legal right to abortion and other reproductive rights for Ohio women in the Ohio Constitution.

Watts went to the hospital twice before she miscarried and was later released in spite of pregnancy complications determined by doctors, who said the fetus could not survive outside of the womb.

Research reveals that Black women and girls who miscarry in Ohio and elsewhere who discard a fetus are prosecuted at a higher rate than similarly situated White women and girls.

Dr. George Sterbenz, a forensic pathologist, said in a hearing that  there was no no injury to the fetus and said Watts’ fetus died before going through the birth canal. He added that Watts’ medical records showed she visited the hospital twice before the birth.

“This fetus was going to be non-viable,” said Sterbenz. “It was going to be non-viable because she had premature ruptured membranes — her water had broken early — and the fetus was too young to be delivered.”

Police and prosecutors said Watts was being prosecuted not for miscarrying but for allegedly abusing a corpse after miscarriage, though doctors say that it was a premature fetus.

Watt's' attorney said her Black client was being treated unfairly for something that has become routine.

“This 33-year-old girl, with no criminal record, is demonized for something that goes on every day,” said Traci Timko, Watts’ defense attorney before the case went to the county grand jury.

Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research published research in 2021 showing that Black women had a 43% increased risk of miscarriage compared to White women.

Coleman said that "instead of singling out pregnant Black women in Ohio like Britanny Watts for malicious and selective  prosecutions authorities should address disparities relative to Black women who face disproportionate complications during pregnancy, including higher miscarriage rates, and even death."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black women are three times more likely to die during pregnancy than White women. Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com, the most read Black digital newspaper and Black blog in Ohio and in the Midwest. Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: editor@clevelandurbannews.com. We interviewed former president Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview. CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, OHIO'S LEADER IN BLACK DIGITAL NEWS.

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