Alex Blaze

Woman Prosecuted After Failed Suicide Attempt

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 23, 2011 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: bei bei shuai, indiana, prosecuted, rat poison, rights

An Indianapolis woman is being prosecuted for murder after an attempted suicide caused a miscarriage:

rat-poison.jpgDavid Rimstidt, chief deputy to Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, said the case was unique but the charges were appropriate given the facts.

Shuai admitted to ingesting rat poison during the late stages of her pregnancy in December. Friends took her to a hospital to get help.

Shuai gave birth to a daughter, Angel, who was put on life support but eventually was removed because doctors determined they couldn't help her. Angel died Jan. 3.

Shuai was arrested Monday and is being held without bond.

There's so much wrong with this, but this is the logical result of a regime that sees the life of a fetus as more valuable than that of a woman and suicide as a choice people make because they're either stupid or selfish.

I don't see much justice in prosecuting this woman. Then again, I'm one of those strange people who believes that the criminal justice system should be one of many tools that society uses to make everyone's quality of life better, not a mechanism that punishes people haphazardly for breaking sacred, unquestionable rules. This woman needs help, not jail time, but there are still people walking around on this planet who think that prison is a cure-all for all society's ailments.

We still live in a society where prostitutes are prosecuted under the rubric of "help," where teens are prosecuted and forced to register as sex offenders if they take naked pictures of themselves because otherwise how are they going to learn the potentially embarrassing consequences of sexting, where men seeking some love in all the wrong places have their names, addresses, and pictures published in the local paper to keep them from being sinful, where people who are HIV positive are sent to prison in order to control the spread of the disease, and where drug abusers are given prison time as if that'll cure them of addiction.

Prisons don't solve all our problems. In fact, they create quite a few problems. Perhaps we could learn to use them more sparingly?

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I do agree she needs help. However, she at some point has to face the fact she murdered her child in the process of committing suicide.

Terminating a fetus (even in the act of attempting or committing suicide) isn't classified as murder under current law. It's that simple. Therefore, this woman isn't a murderer, and shouldn't be facing murder charges. It's that simple.

My guess is since the baby was born and was on life support temporarily that the prosecution is going to argue that he was a full human being.

I doubt she's unaware of what happened to her child. I don't think that if she somehow doesn't know what happened, that prison will make her remember.

She didn't intentionally kill the child. So per definition, it can't be murder.

Kathy Padilla | March 23, 2011 10:15 AM

This is appalling. And - why aren't they charging her wit attempted murder for the suicide?

Help? In Indiana? You mean before they rush to judgement and condemnation? Surely you jest.

Three indiana posts on the front page in a row. What a way to start the day.

Regan DuCasse | March 23, 2011 12:01 PM

Sadly, murder/suicide includes children. Of course a result of domestic violence. And the situations, especially when it comes to abandonment from the father of the children signals major dysfunction that there is little help for from the government.

This is unusual in that the woman was still pregnant, rather than she murder the baby after it's born.
Her culpability is in that she had to be aware that ingesting that kind of poison WOULD kill the baby as well as herself.
It might seem unproductive to convict her, or perhaps some people here think, it might be too harsh.

But there are women who allow themselves to get pregnant over and over again, only to make the baby pay the price one way or another.

I suspect the profile of this woman points in this direction.
Long time conviction would be prevent more of this happening.

I'm curious to know who the baby's father is, and if he cared about what happened to the baby or planned to support it.
I doubt it.

But it bears thinking about his part in this other than sperm donor.

No, it doesn't bear thinking about. A woman should be able to terminate her pregnancy at any time for any reason.

I find it curious that you seem to know so much about her psychological profile when the news story only mentions the fact that she attempted to kill herself, the child died as a result, and she's now facing a murder charge.

The fact that this woman tried to commit suicide points to the fact that she has some sort of mental problem. Being committed to a mental health facility would be preferable to prison any day.

If this woman was trying to abort her kid, she could have taken a trip down the stairs or gotten someone to beat her in the abdomen, not ingested rat poison. What happened to the kid is unfortunate, but would you have preferred she waited to give birth and then killed herself?

A Reuters report names the timeline:

* 33 weeks along when poison was taken
* Dec 23 2010 - hospitalized
* Dec 31 2010 - baby Angel born
* Jan 3 2011 - Angel taken off life support
* autopsy names the poison as the cause of death

The attorney makes the points that stand out to me:

"Charges against pregnant women are wrong. In every jurisdiction that has looked at this but one ... courts have tossed this out," Pence said. "Prosecuting women that were pregnant is bad for babies. These kind of prosecutions ... make women afraid to come forth for health reasons and other reasons. Babies die when you prosecute women. I can't believe this office decided to file this."


Suicide prevention is complex and difficult. Putting anyone who is struggling and/or vulnerable to suicide on notice that criminal charges and prison time may result won't help them, and may increase the lethality of any attempt.