Pregnant Inmate in Florida Seeking Release Cites Wrongful Detainment of Unborn Child

Natalia Harrell's attorney argues that the Florida woman's unborn child is is being illegally detained, as it has not been charged with any crime.

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A pregnant woman is seeking to be released from prison for the benefit of her unborn child.

According to WTSP, 24-year-old Natalia Harrell was arrested last year in connection to a deadly shooting in Miami. Prosecutors say Harrell was in an Uber with five other people following a night of partying. At one point during the July 23 ride, the woman allegedly opened fire in the vehicle and fatally shot fellow passenger Gladys Yvette Borcela, a mother of three. Harrell, who was reportedly six weeks pregnant at the time, was taken into custody and has been held without bond at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. 

In a Feb. 17 habeas corpus filing, Harrell argued her unborn child is being unlawfully detained and being subjected to harsh conditions and a dangerous environment. The filing, titled “Petitioner unborn child’s writ of habeas corpus petition,” states the fetus counts as a person and is, therefore, protected by the constitutions of Florida and United States.

“UNBORN CHILD has not been charged with any crime by the State,” the writ of habeas corpus reads. ”Further, the State has placed the UNBORN CHILD in such inherently dangerous environment by placing the UNBORN CHILD in close proximity to violent criminal offenders.”

The filing alleges Harrell, who is eight months pregnant, has not received proper prenatal care during her incarceration. It states she has not been checked by a doctor since the fall, and has not received any prescribed vitamins or nutritional drinks. The filing also argues the facility has endangered the unborn child’s life by placing their mother in “close proximity to violent criminal offenders.”

“An unborn child has rights independent of its mother, even though it’s still in the womb,” Harrell’s attorney William M. Norris told the Washington Post. “The unborn child has been deprived of due process of law in this incarceration. You simply have to have the unborn child as a factor in the equation.” 

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office filed a motion this week to dismiss the petition, claiming Norris has failed to provide any supporting evidence for the allegations pertaining to Harrell’s medical treatment. The Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Department also pushed back on the claims, insisting its team is “committed to ensuring all inmates receive professional, timely medical care and all appropriate treatment.”

“We are conducting a full review of the health services offered and received to ensure that all pre-natal care being provided in our custody is appropriate,” spokesperson for the department told Law & Crime.

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