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Natalia Harrell Miami-Dade County Jail

Pregnant US inmate seeks release because unborn baby is innocent

Natalia Harrell faces a murder charge after fatally shooting another woman while taking an Uber.

A PREGNANT WOMAN charged with murder and jailed in Florida wants out of prison on the grounds that her unborn baby is innocent and “held unlawfully”, a lawyer said on Thursday.

“The child didn’t have a seat at the table when the decision to incarcerate the mother was made,” lawyer William Norris told AFP.

The mother, Natalia Harrell, 24, has been in jail for some seven months and faces a murder charge after fatally shooting another woman while taking an Uber in Miami last July.

Harrell was some six weeks pregnant at the time of her arrest.

Harrell had a gun in her purse and “feared for her life and that of her unborn child”, according to the petition filed last week.

The foetus “has not committed any crime” yet remains incarcerated in “deplorable conditions” and unless granted relief will be “likely brought into this world on the concrete floor of the prison cell”, the petition says.

The petition argues that the mother has not received proper medical care during her incarceration.

Roe v Wade

Norris said he was hired by the father-to-be, and filed the petition on behalf of the foetus. The petition asserts that the “unborn child is a person”.

Last June, a pregnant woman in Texas who was ticketed for driving in a high-occupancy carpool lane argued that her unborn child should be counted as a second passenger.

Her case made international news because it came just five days after the US Supreme Court overturned the right to abortion enshrined in Roe v Wade, leaving the decision up to each state to regulate.

Norris said his petition, which would also benefit Harrell, is “not a direct result” of the Supreme Court ruling but is “a consequence of that”.

“It’s interesting how society moves forward,” Norris told AFP. “People are starting to recognise that an unborn child is a person.”

© AFP 2023

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