A few months ago I mentioned a trial that was set to begin here in my hometown of Indianapolis this September. It involved Bei Bei Shuai, a Chinese immigrant facing charges of murder and feticide whose story I recounted, with a few observations about its potential significance.
Recently the case was settled out of court, with a plea deal that gave her a much lesser charge of “criminal recklessness” instead of murder and feticide. By pleading guilty to this misdemeanor, the year-plus in which she had already served in prison before bonding out was applied to the sentence she was given, and Bei Bei Shuai is now a free woman. She and her attorney had rejected a plea deal a year ago that would have had her plead guilty to feticide, but not murder, charges, punishable by up to 65 years in prison. The choice appears to have been a wise one for her.
I have read the scuttlebutt from this outcome throughout the world (a side note: the British take a far more intense interest in the goings-on in America than their former colonists do in those of the United Kingdom; could anyone tell me the last time among the American media we read of an intriguing case in, say, the Yorkshire Dales?). The general consensus was palpable relief among those in the abortion rights camp (also found under such nomenclature as “reproductive rights proponents” and “champions of women’s health”). The winner for most unctuous of these was on the “RH Reality Check” site, dedicated to “Reproductive and Sexual Health and Justice.” Here the Indiana case was depicted as the latest among the efforts of “anti-abortion activists toward criminalizing pregnancy to both attack reproductive rights and punish pregnant women for failed pregnancies.” It is curious that it omits the fact that ingestion of rat poison by Miss Shuai in her eighth month of pregnancy led to this pregnancy “failure.”
A conviction would have potentially devastating consequences for them, and they knew it. Indiana is a socially-conservative bastion among the Great Lakes states, and is not the state in which they wanted this case tried. That said, an acquittal on all charges would have been a blow to the prosecution, though likely not all that crushing to the overall movement toward protection of the unborn. There are some glimmers of encouragement for those who grieve abortion, about which others have spoken, and there is a faint sense that the tide may be turning. The Bei Bei Shuai case was a tragedy for all involved, and speaks more to the damage that the Fall has inflicted on humanity than to wider legal precedents. I have a sense that Bei Bei’s friends and supporters may have a bit less need for her now, and I have a hopeful (if perhaps Pollyannaish) image of the Body of Christ reaching out to Bei Bei Shuai, at once the criminal and the victim, with the love of God that transcends an agenda.