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Woman's felony charge for 'abuse of a corpse' sheds light on the realities of miscarriage

Let's start with the unspoken and uncomfortable fact that miscarriages at home usually happen in a toilet.

miscarriage; pregnancy loss; abuse of corpse trial; miscarriage stigma; woman charged miscarriage

Woman's felony charge after miscarriage highlights need for education.

Content Warning: This story discusses pregnancy loss details that may be uncomfortable for some readers.

Losing a pregnancy is not something anyone can prepare for. There's no course you can take to tell you what to expect, how you'll feel or what to do after the miscarriage occurs. It's not something that's widely talked about, even in conversations about miscarriage.

About 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage in the first trimester and 1 in 5 in the second, according to the March of Dimes. Many women who reveal they've lost a pregnancy talk about how difficult it was emotionally, but they rarely talk about the lack of information from medical professionals or the details of the process of miscarrying. It makes sense because it's hard enough to discuss pregnancy loss, and to go into detail may be much worse on their mental health.

There also may be a level of shame attached to the process, partly because the topic of miscarriage is still taboo but also because many at-home miscarriages happen in the toilet. It's an uncomfortable truth that haunts people who have experienced the process. But the truth of the matter is, hospitals don't usually admit you for a miscarriage; they send you home with little to no instructions on what to do after it happens. So to people who have experienced the pain of a miscarriage at home, it makes sense that a woman in Ohio, currently on trial for "abuse of a corpse" would have no idea what to do after miscarrying.


Brittany Watts, 33, of Warren, Ohio, went to the hospital twice concerning her unborn baby. She was informed that she was miscarrying and her baby was not viable. She was presumably sent home to miscarry, like many other miscarrying mothers. The fetus was only 22 weeks gestation when Watts miscarried into the toilet after her water broke, and when she flushed the remains clogged the pipes. A forensic pathologist testified that an autopsy found that the fetus was not injured, and that it had died before passing through the birth canal. Instead of being able to grieve, Watts was arrested.

But there's not much information available in America on what to do if you miscarry at home. In the UK, the NHS sends miscarrying mothers home with a leaflet that gives some basic options on how to handle the process.

"If you miscarry at home you are very likely to pass the remains of your pregnancy into the toilet. You may look at what has come away and see a pregnancy sac and/or a very early baby (we call this a fetus) – or something you think might a be a fetus. If you complete your miscarriage at home you have no obligation to dispose of the pregnancy remains in any particular way," the NHS writes.

"You might want to simply flush the toilet – many people do that automatically. If you prefer to dispose of the remains the way you normally dispose of sanitary waste this is a personal choice and there are no regulations to prevent you doing whatever feels right for you. Or you may want to remove the remains for a closer look. That’s natural too. If you know that you do not want to flush the remains of your pregnancy you may wish to place a bowl into the toilet."

Being in the position of losing a pregnancy and everything that comes with it, people forget the shock aspect of it all. There are people who pass out from pain and those who pass out from the sight of blood, both of which are often present with miscarriages. But the question remains, what are people going through this experience supposed to do if they're sent home from the hospital or miscarry without warning at home?

A woman who uses the screen name Mamacita Sanchez took to X (formerly Twitter) to express her shock and frustration at elected officials.

"I’m struggling to comprehend the ignorance of policy makers about what happens during pregnancy/miscarriage. Yesterday I learned that they didn’t know that you usually miscarry into a toilet. They didn’t know that your medical team sends you home to miscarry," she starts her thread.

"They don’t know the difference between Plan B and meds used to manage miscarriages. They don’t know the difference between zygote/embryo/fetus. They don’t know a miscarriage is called an “abortion” on a woman’s medical chart."

Sanchez's thread goes on to highlight the dangers of pregnancy and miscarriages with women chiming in revealing their own experience with miscarriage and their fears.

"I got sent home after they determined there was no heart beat to have my miscarriage at home. Lots of clots and lumps of tissue. No telling what in all that was what. Where is it supposed to go if not the toilet? So. Much. Blood. Such sadness. Heart ache. Agony," one woman replies.

"Exactly! I was given the pill when my body didn't take care of things on its own and spent the next day feeling like I was dying while my boss texted me over and over again on how to do my tasks. Farthest I got from the restroom was the bed," someone reveals.

"I’ve been saying the same. Policy-makers, and too many journalists, do not understand the medical details of pregnancy complications, not to mention the emotional distress that comes with it," another woman explains.

Maybe it's time for lawmakers to start listening to the people who have gone through these situations and the medical professionals that see them. The physical and emotional toll miscarriage takes on a person can be unimaginable, so a little grace and understanding goes a long way.

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.

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