On August 31 a young woman named Rebecca Corneau was ordered into protective custody by Bristol County District Judge Kenneth P. Nasif -- not for her protection but for the protection of her unborn child. Rebecca Corneau belongs to a small religious community in Attleboro, Mass. which regards the state and modern medicine as blasphemous. Two small children, one an older son of Corneau's and another her nephew, have disappeared and are presumed dead. It is believed, based on the testimony of a disaffected member of the group, that the former died at childbirth for the lack of routine hospital care and the latter starved to death when he stopped nursing. But because nobody in the group will talk, nearly half of the men in the group are in jail for refusing to cooperate with the grand jury and many of their children have been taken from them. When Corneau, eight and a half months pregnant, refused to allow a nurse sent by the court to examine her, Judge Nasif ordered her to be held in a facility in the Roxbury section of Boston where women from Framingham State (women's) Prison go to give birth. Nasif explained that he did this because he heard the unborn child, "and it says 'I want to live. I do not want to die. I do not want to die like my brother Jeremiah did.'"
Feminist lawyers have asked the state Supreme Judicial Court to overrule Nasif (it is a little unusual to jail people for crimes they might commit!), but the SJC is unlikely to rule on the case before the child is born. When that happens the child will be taken from Corneau and she will be free to go.
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