If the baby is not released from custody, the document says, the child will likely be “brought into this world on the concrete floor of the prison cell, without the aid of qualified medical physicians and paramedics, and in the presence of violent criminals.”
The document says the unborn child is defined as a person under article 1, section 9 of the Florida Constitution, and added that the Fifth, Eighth, and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution also provide personhood protections.
The document states that “the logical reading of the text of the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protection clauses is that any person includes the entire universe of persons, including unborn persons.”
“Congress knew how to limit the class of persons to born persons when it intended to do so but instead used the most expansive language available when defining those entitled to due process and equal protection,” the document says, referring to the 14th Amendment.
Reyes, the prison director, responded to the court filing arguing that Harrell has been offered the appropriate health care and has even refused medical treatment.
“Petitioner has been taken to at least four obstetrician appointments outside of the jail and, notably, refused to attend a fifth. Despite her refusal, Petitioner is currently scheduled for yet another outside obstetrician appointment in the near future,” Reyes wrote.
Reyes wrote that Harrell has received prenatal care inside the jail and will continue to.
“As mentioned, and despite claims to the contrary in the petition, she has been receiving and/or has been offered additional nutrition on a daily basis since her August 2022 positive pregnancy test. Petitioner has been offered prenatal vitamins on a daily basis for months,” he said.
Reyes wrote that the unborn child has been monitored by nurses and medical providers as recently as Feb. 17. The child has shown “good fetal movement” and the baby’s heart rate has always “been found to be normal.”
Attorneys for the prison asked for the petition for habeas corpus to be dismissed. Harrell’s lawyer’s responded on Tuesday, doubling down on their argument.
“The state and respondents are silent on the unborn child’s factual claim of that he is a ‘person’ as that term ‘person’ is used in Article 1, section 9 of the Florida Constitution and Fifth, Eighth, and 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution,” Harrell’s response says.
(Story continues below)
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Joseph Bukuras is a journalist at the Catholic News Agency. Joe has prior experience working in state and federal government, in non-profits, and Catholic education. He has contributed to an array of publications and his reporting has been cited by leading news sources, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Catholic University of America. He is based out of the Boston area.