A pregnant stomach
Getty Images
  • An Oklahoma woman has been given a four-year jail sentence for manslaughter after losing a fetus at 17 weeks.
  • Brittney Poolaw admitted to using drugs while pregnant, but authorities cannot confirm if this terminated her pregnancy.
  • A pregnancy advocacy group is called the sentence "shameful and dangerous."
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A 21-year-old Oklahoma woman has been found guilty of first-degree manslaughter after losing a pregnancy at 17-weeks.

On 5 October, Brittney Poolaw was sentenced to four years in prison for her miscarriage when she was 19, with an autopsy confirming that the fetus died at 17 weeks gestation, local news site KSWO first reported from the court.

When Poolaw lost the pregnancy, she went to Comanche County Hospital for help and confessed to using recreational drugs.

Prosecutors stated that Poolaw's use of meth and marijuana may have been responsible for ending the pregnancy. An OB-GYN testifying for the state said that the use of these controlled substances may not have directly caused the death of the fetus.

A nurse and medical examiner confirmed the fetus had congenital abnormalities.

State law says that a woman cannot be prosecuted for causing the death of their unborn child "unless the mother committed a crime" that caused its death.

A number of groups are advocating for Poolaw, saying that her conviction is not legal.

The National Advocates for Pregnant Women released a statement saying that this ruling is "shameful and dangerous."

The organisation added that, "Ms. Poolaw's case is a tragedy...She was charged and convicted of a crime without basis in law or science. We are supporting Ms. Poolaw as she explores her legal options, and we are working to ensure that this type of injustice does not happen again."

Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.