Virginia Woman Facing 5 Years for Concealing Fetal Remains

women's rightsA 24-year-old woman, Katherine Dellis, in Virginia is facing up to five years in jail for unlawfully concealing human remains, a Class 6 felony.

Police found a stillborn fetus in a dumpster in Rocky Mount, Virginia after they were tipped off by a local hospital. Hospital officials became suspicious when Dellis arrived with severe vaginal bleeding, symptoms that suggest she may have given birth during her third trimester. Dellis denied that she had given birth.

Upon investigating Dellis’ home, and interviewing a family member who revealed that they had disposed of soiled bedsheets, police determined that Dellis had indeed given birth.

After the deceased fetus was found in a dumpster, a preliminary autopsy was performed. The results of the autopsy revealed that the fetus was a stillborn.

This case is very reminiscent of Purvi Patel, an Indiana woman who was sentenced to 41 years in prison for feticide upon having a miscarriage and throwing the stillborn fetus away.

As if having a miscarriage or stillbirth weren’t tough enough, women in America must be fearful of being prosecuted or punished if it happens to them. While Dellis isn’t being charged for having a miscarriage, rather for concealing the fetal remains, it speaks volumes that she didn’t feel comfortable admitting the truth to the hospital or police. Having a still birth is an extremely tragic, shocking thing for anyone to experience. Instead of punishment or finger wagging, the correct response would be compassion and medical care.

What do you think? Do you think the charges against Dellis are fair? Why or why not?


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