LICKING COUNTY, OH — Attorneys have appealed the conviction of a Licking County woman who was unjustly targeted by prosecutors after experiencing a pregnancy loss at her home two years ago. Kalina Gillum, a 22-year-old Ohioan and mother of a toddler, is represented on appeal by If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice and the Office of the Ohio Public Defender.

“The letter of the law in Ohio never supported this prosecution in the first place,” said Yveka Pierre, Esq., If/When/How Senior Litigation Counsel, who represented Ms. Gillum at trial this spring. “Ohio law prohibits the prosecution of people for their pregnancy outcomes, and our client should not be burdened with a criminal record that exists solely because prosecutors violated the very laws by which Ohio should be governed.”

Ms. Gillum was arrested and served four months in jail during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, based on accusations that she ended her own pregnancy in 2019. But any person who experiences a pregnancy loss, intentional or unintentional, is protected from prosecution by Ohio law — a law that is in line with the positions of leading medical organizations in the U.S., as well as the American Bar Association. Sara L. Ainsworth, Senior Legal & Policy Director at If/When/How, who is co-counsel for Ms. Gillum in her appeal, said “As these organizations recognize, prosecuting people for pregnancy outcomes undermines public health and violates the rule of law.”

Ms. Gillum is one of hundreds of people throughout the U.S. who have been unjustly targeted by police and prosecutors for pregnancy loss since 1973. In recent years, attacks on access to reproductive health care — including abortion and contraception — have increased, while politicians have also ramped up explicit attempts to criminalize and surveil pregnant people.

If/When/How’s Yveka Pierre is available for interview to discuss this case, and the increasing attacks on, surveillance of, and criminalization of pregnant people in the U.S. To set up an interview, contact [email protected].

If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice transforms the law and policy landscape through advocacy, support, and organizing so all people have the power to determine if, when, and how to define, create, and sustain families with dignity and to actualize sexual and reproductive wellbeing on their own terms. We envision a transformation of the legal systems and institutions that perpetuate oppression into structures that realize justice, and a future when all people can self-determine their reproductive lives free from discrimination, coercion, or violence.