Alabama Jails Woman for Endangering Her Fetus. She Wasn’t Pregnant.
Lawsuit alleges false imprisonment after arrest for endangering fetus that didn’t exist. Another Alabama woman has been jailed for using drugs while pregnant. But this time there’s a twist: she wasn’t actually pregnant. Her young child merely told a social worker that she was, according to the woman’s lawsuit against local law enforcement in Etowah County.
There’s an easy way to tell if someone is pregnant, of course, but authorities reportedly failed to administer a pregnancy test before booking Stacey Freeman into jail for about one and a half days. “Freeman offered to take a pregnancy test and Etowah County Department of Human Resources employees entered an order for one,” according to AL.com. “However, she never took the test and Etowah County Sheriff Investigator Brandi Fuller issued a warrant for her arrest, according to the lawsuit.”
Freeman was arrested for alleged “chemical endangerment of a child.” Alabama’s chemical endangerment of a child statute is frequently used against women who use any drugs, including marijuana, while pregnant. Convictions can mean up to 20 years in prison.
Etowah County is especially bad, according to the group Pregnancy Justice (formerly known as National Advocates for Pregnant Women). The county “has prosecuted more than 150 women on pregnancy-related charges in recent years,” Pregnancy Justice said. “Of the more than 1,700 pregnancy-related criminalization cases Pregnancy Justice has documented from 1973 through 2020, Alabama leads the nation with more than 600 cases, and Etowah County leads the state.”
Freeman is now suing Fuller and Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton.
Fuller personally has made “an obscene number of arrests for pregnant and postpartum women,” states Freeman’s lawsuit. It alleges that “the Sheriff’s department and its employees have been reckless in investigating in making arrests of women for chemical endangerment and then encouraging their prosecution.”
Our fight against the criminalization of pregnancy in Etowah Co., AL, continues. In the 150 cases we found, investigator Brandi Fuller is on nearly all of the warrants. She operates unchecked to “protect the unborn” — and now when there isn’t even a fetus! This is next level. https://t.co/ouhExQWWkK
— National Advocates for Pregnant Women (@NAPW) November 21, 2022
Freeman claims she was menstruating when she was arrested and jailed—something that should have either been a telltale sign that she was not pregnant or warranted medical attention if she was. Freeman further alleges that jail staff would not give her feminine hygiene products.
Freeman’s charges were eventually dr
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