Jan 20, 2020
Two months after a miscarriage, 25-year-old Chelsea Becker of Hancock, in central California, was charged with murder and put behind bars on five million dollars bail. The Kings County District Attorney charged Becker after hospital authorities notified the coroner’s office about the miscarriage, and the coroner found the drug methamphetamine in the stillborn baby.
It’s a pattern that’s repeating itself in Hancock. In 2018, another young woman, Adora Perez, who had had a miscarriage at the same hospital, faced murder charges through collusion between hospital officials and the DA. A judge slammed her with an 11-year prison sentence.
The cases against Perez and Becker are based on a 1970 California law which, ironically, was supposed to protect pregnant women from domestic violence. But such cases against women are often dismissed even before a trial, and for good reason: it simply can’t be proven that a miscarriage is caused by the mother’s use of drugs. A miscarriage can happen for all kinds of reasons, including abdominal trauma, certain infections and even high blood pressure. In fact, because of this, miscarriages are much more common in economically depressed working-class or farming communities like Hancock.
But obviously, these facts do not matter to all those authorities who railroaded Perez to prison: the hospital officials who told on her, the coroner who ruled the miscarriage a “homicide,” the DA who charged her with murder and the judge who gave her a long prison sentence without a trial. Apparently, the same DA is now trying to repeat his “success” in the Perez case, by attacking another young woman who has an addiction.
What’s going on in Hancock is part of an increasing tide of attacks on women across the country, accusing women of “immoral choices,” such as ending a pregnancy or using drugs.
People who claim such moral superiority over others may be a small minority, but politicians and government officials use such backward views to attack working-class communities plagued by poverty, and all the social problems that come with it.