California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed an amicus brief on Friday in support of ending the prosecution against a woman who was arrested and charged with murder after delivering a stillborn baby with toxic levels of methamphetamine in its system.
Chelsea Cheyenne Becker, 26, delivered a stillborn child on September 10, 2019, that medical professionals believed may have been exposed to drugs while she was pregnant. The death was ruled a homicide after an autopsy by the Kings County Coroner’s Office found methamphetamine in the baby’s system, police said.
Becker has been in jail since November of 2019 and is currently awaiting trial. Her bail is set at $5 million. The superior court denied Becker’s motion to dismiss the charges in June.
“Our laws in California do not convict women who suffer the loss of their pregnancy, and in our filing today we are making clear that this law has been misused to the detriment of women, children, and families,” Becerra said in a statement.
“We will work to end the prosecution and imprisonment of Ms. Becker so we can focus on applying this law to those who put the lives of pregnant women in danger.”
Becerra added that he believed the law was “misapplied and misinterpreted” and argued in the brief that a woman cannot be prosecuted for murder as a result of her actions leading to a loss in pregnancy.
He also refers to Penal Code section 187 which he said should not be used to punish women who cannot, because of addiction or a lack of resources, practice prenatal health. The code’s intention was also not to “punish women who might be in desperation seek to end their pregnancies,” according to the brief.
Kings County District Attorney Keith L. Fagundes told CNN his office was not notified that the Attorney General would be filing an amicus brief.
“This case is not about a stillbirth, it is a case about a mother’s overdose of a late term viable fetus,” Fagundes said.
“I appreciate the Attorney General’s opinion, and can only conclude that he has not been properly briefed on the facts of this case, has not read any police report nor has he reviewed the medical information involved in this particular case.”