The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Criminalizing Women Who Miscarry

Jan 1, 2024

Brittany Watts was arrested on the charge of felony abuse of a corpse for how she handled the remains from her pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage. If indicted and found guilty, she faces up to a year in prison, along with a fine of up to $2,500, according to her lawyer.

Watts had miscarried into her toilet, something that is not uncommon. But this clogged the toilet and Watts had to remove the fetus. Not knowing how to handle the remains, she put them in a bucket and left it outside by the garage. After her miscarriage she was hospitalized and on an IV for two weeks before being arrested. The autopsy on the remains showed that the pregnancy loss was natural, and that the fetus was unharmed in any way.

As many as 30% of pregnancies end in miscarriages, usually in the first trimester and often before a woman even knows she is pregnant. In other words, miscarriages happen all the time—most of the time they go unnoticed. But Watts had her miscarriage at 22 weeks, which is rare. Doctors say there is no clear guidance for how fetal remains should be handled.

In the last seven years, Ohio, along with several other states, enacted laws mandating that products of pregnancy be buried or cremated. These rules typically apply to hospitals or clinics which are more able to absorb the cost rather than the individual woman who miscarried.

Make no mistake, the ridiculous charge against Watts is punishment for her miscarriage. She was arrested to placate the far-right, which wants to control women and challenge any time a pregnancy does not result in a live birth. On top of the pain and hurt a woman goes through in an event such as this, they want to impose further suffering. This is an attack on all women, particularly working class women in their reproductive years.