ArticlesVolume 16, Number 1 (2007)

The Detention, Confinement, and Incarceration of Pregnant Women for the Benefit of Fetal Health

Abstract

In 1998, Yuriko Kawaguchi appeared before Cleveland, Ohio Municipal Court Judge Patricia Cleary and entered a guilty plea to a fifth- degree felony forgery count resulting from her use of a counterfeit credit card. Approximately two weeks before her sentencing hearing, Ms. Kawaguchi wrote to Judge Cleary, informing the judge that she was pregnant and wished to end her pregnancy by obtaining an abortion. At the sentencing hearing the judge objected to the defendant’s plans to obtain an abortion and offered her a “quid pro quo” deal. If the defendant agreed to bring the fetus to term, Judge Cleary promised to sentence her to probation. If Ms. Kawaguchi insisted on having the abortion, then the Judge indicated that she would sentence Ms. Kawaguchi to a prison term of six months. Ms. Kawaguchi refused “the deal.” By the time Ms. Kawaguchi was released by an order of the Eighth District Court of Appeals granting bond, she was too far along in her pregnancy to obtain a legal abortion in the State of Ohio.