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OAKLAND, May 9, 2022 – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued the following statement on the Kings County District Attorney’s decision to dismiss the criminal charge against Adora Perez for the loss of her pregnancy:
“With reproductive rights under attack across the nation, the dismissal of the murder charge against Adora Perez is a victory for justice and the rule of law,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Suffering a miscarriage or a stillbirth can be deeply personal and traumatic. We owe it to all Californians to ensure the pain of loss is not compounded by violation of privacy and unjust prosecution. California law is clear: We do not criminalize people for the loss of a pregnancy. My office will continue to stand up for the rights of pregnant people in California and beyond.”
In December 2017, Ms. Perez suffered a stillbirth at a hospital in Kings County. Shortly after, she was wrongfully charged by the District Attorney with murder under California Penal Code section 187 (PC 187), allegedly for causing the death of a fetus through drug use. To avoid the potential penalties associated with that murder charge, Ms. Perez originally pled to a voluntary manslaughter charge under California Penal Code section 192 (PC 192) and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. During the course of Ms. Perez’s challenges to her convictions, Attorney General Bonta argued that both the text of the statutes and evidence of the intent of the Legislature confirm that California’s laws do not criminalize a person’s own actions that might result in a pregnancy loss.
In March 2022, the Kings County Superior Court issued a decision ruling that the conviction under PC 192 is unlawful and ordered further proceedings in superior court. The court directed the parties to appear for a subsequent hearing that would have allowed Ms. Perez to argue that murder under PC 187 does not cover the conduct or omissions of pregnant persons resulting in stillbirth. Today, the Kings County District Attorney entirely dismissed the charge originally brought against Ms. Perez.
Attorney General Bonta has been a staunch defender against the wrongful criminalization of pregnancy loss. Prior to today’s development, Attorney General Bonta issued a legal alert advising all California district attorneys, police chiefs, and sheriffs that PC 187 of the California Penal Code was intended to hold accountable third parties who inflict harm on pregnant individuals causing fetal death. As Attorney General Bonta advised, PC 187 was not meant to include a pregnant person’s own actions or inactions that might result in a miscarriage or stillbirth.