Can I ‘Murder” Baby In Womb?

Bei Bei Shuai came to America from China about ten years ago and within a few years had saved enough money to purchase a restaurant. She met a nice man and fell in love with him and they planned to marry. On December 23rd last year she discovered he was already married and was going to abandon her. In despair, Ms. Shuai went to a hardware store, purchased rat poison pellets, swallowed them and went into convulsions. Fortunately, a friend came by, rushed her to a hospital and while there she gave birth to a little girl. However, the girl died within four days due to the physical condition of her body at birth. In March, police in Indianapolis arrested Ms. Shuai and charged her with murder. This is among the first cases in which a mother is charged with abusing the baby in a womb and thus causing the baby to die. It raises the issue as to whether the state has a right to punish women who fail to take care of themselves while pregnant.

This may well be a landmark case in legal history. If a woman smokes or drinks or gains excessive weight while pregnant and, in so doing impacts the health of the baby in the womb, can she be charged with attempted murder or even murder itself?