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Florida prisoner argues her unborn baby is being illegally detained and should be released

Rachel Lang

Published 
| Last updated 

Florida prisoner argues her unborn baby is being illegally detained and should be released

Featured Image Credit: Andrey Zhuravlev / Alamy Stock Photo. Michael Matthews / Alamy Stock Photo

Eight months ago, the US Supreme Court ruled against women across America by overturning Roe v. Wade in favor of the rights of unborn children.

Now, a pregnant prisoner in Florida is using the same logic against the US penal system.

Natalia Harrell is arguing, by their own rationale, her unborn baby is being illegally detained as it has not committed a crime and therefore should be released.

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If this one has cooked your noodle, allow us to explain.

Harrell was six weeks pregnant when she allegedly shot and killed another woman.

She's now waiting in jail until a trial for the charges levied against her begins.

But her lawyers have filed an emergency petition before the courts, arguing that her unborn child is being unlawfully detained.

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Credit: Andrey Zhuravlev / Alamy
Credit: Andrey Zhuravlev / Alamy

To be more precise, the BBC reports lawyers have argued jail staff are endangering the unborn baby due to a 'lack of reasonable and necessary prenatal care'.

They're drawing on the same argument that saw Roe v. Wade quashed in June: that a foetus is a person with their own rights.

As per the legal submission filed by her attorney William Norris, her 'unborn child is a person as defined under the Florida Constitution and United States Constitution'.

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The legal documents call on Harrell to be released from jail until her child is born and the fetus can receive the proper care it needs and deserves.

Speaking to The Washington Post, Norris said: "An unborn child has rights independent of its mother, even though it's still in the womb. The unborn child has been deprived of due process of law in this incarceration."

The fetus' mother was jailed without bail in July after police claim she shot Gladys Yvette Borcela, whom she was travelling with in an Uber.

The 24-year-old Florida woman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

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As per the petition to the court, Harrell acted in self-defence and was 'in fear of her life and the life of her unborn child'.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody's office called for the petition to be dismissed on Monday, the BBC reports, claiming Harrel's filing did not have sufficient evidence to support her claim.

Father of the unborn baby, Michael O'Brien, told NBC Miami he feared for the wellbeing of the child.

Natalia Harrell. Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections.
Natalia Harrell. Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections.
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"I don't want the baby to be born prematurely or low birth weight," he said.

"The conditions are terrible and I feel she's not getting the pre-natal care she should be getting."

So, Roe v. Wade set the precedent that a fetus is not a person but 'potential life', and thus does not have constitutional rights of its own.

By overturning that legislation, the Supreme Court infers an unborn child does, in fact, have constitutional rights.

So the argument could be made that Florida's penal system has illegally incarcerated someone without charge: an unborn baby.

Oof, this seems like a case of the consequences of one's own actions coming back to haunt them.

Except this time, it's the US court system.

Topics: News, US News, Crime

Rachel Lang
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