opinion

"Emile Weaver didn't deserve jail for killing her baby."

A 21 year-old university student in Ohio, US, has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of her newborn baby. Emile Weaver, a student at Muskingum University, gave birth to a live baby girl in the toilet of the sorority house in which she lived on April 22nd, 2015, and subsequently tied the baby and placenta up in a garbage bag and threw it out in the rubbish.

Friends of Weaver had suspected the pregnancy, but she denied it despite having received a positive test result from her doctor after attempting to get contraception.

Emily Weaver, 21 was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Image via Mypace/NCB4I.

The evidence against Emile Weaver was overwhelmingly damning, and she was last month found guilty of aggravated murder, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence. Naturally, the murder of a newborn baby gets people angry and emotional, and after reading through articles on the case I see reader comments along the lines of “Give her the death penalty”, “Scum”, and “I hope she rots in Hell”.

I understand it, newborns are defenseless, innocent, and need protection. But you know what? I feel sorry for Emile. A twenty one year old, who wasn’t even of legal drinking age when she gave birth alone in a bathroom, is now facing life in prison without parole.

I do not think she deserves prison time, let alone a life sentence. She already has a life sentence; she will forever be the girl who killed her baby, shunned by her friends and community.

To be able to do what she did, she clearly has some psychological issues which need to be treated, and won’t be resolved in prison. I can’t help feeling that the blame has been unfairly placed on this young girl.

Yes, she did it, but why?

In Ohio, although abortions are legal, laws which require clinics to have transfer agreements with a private hospital within thirty miles of the clinic make access extremely difficult, not to mention the throng of anti-choice protesters hurling abuse that a young, frightened woman would be forced to walk to in order to gain entry. Money is also often a deciding factor in accessing an abortion, and I imagine that as a student money probably wasn’t in abundance.

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Anti-choice protestors often stand outside of abortion clinics in the US. This would be horrifically intimidating for a 21 year old. Image via Getty. 

While it isn’t relevant in Emile’s case, a minor in Ohio requires parental consent to obtain an abortion. Can you imagine being a teenager and having to tell your parents in order to terminate? How about instead of blaming women like Emile when they take drastic measures like this, make it easier for women to take control of their own bodies with access to reproductive health care including abortions? I could almost guarantee that if abortions were more accessible, we wouldn’t be seeing tragic cases like this.

This wouldn’t always have been my stance. I recall being horrified when something similar happened to a girl I once knew, and she was sentenced to a six month good behaviour bond. I would have had her locked up and thrown away the keys. Many years later though I can see how terrifying it must be to find yourself young, barely even an adult, pregnant, and unable to tell anyone in a society that still looks down on young, unmarried mothers and promiscuous girls. Whilst I was only twenty-one myself when I gave birth to my daughter, I was married, my family and friends were supportive, and she was very much wanted and planned – very different circumstances.

I was only 21 when I gave birth to my daughter. But the circumstances were very different. Image via Facebook/Kellythenics 

It makes me so angry to see such preventable tragedies in the news. The US is a nation where a promising college swimmer only gets six months in a county jail for rape so as not to ruin his life, while a young woman is sentenced to life without parole for getting rid of a baby that society would judge and shun her for having either way. I note with interest that Emile Weaver texted the father of the baby to let him know it had been taken care of. Clearly he knew about the pregnancy and was complicit in the “getting rid of” the baby. Where is his life sentence?

The US needs to get it's priorities in order.

If you are suffering from a mental illness call Lifeline 13 11 14 or Kid's Helpline 1800 55 1800.