DM was convicted of homicide following a miscarriage in February 2015 – part of a growing trend to criminalise pregnant women in conservative parts of Mexico like Querétaro.
The day the miscarriage happened, DM dropped her 7 year old daughter at school, then started her shift in a department store. At around 5pm, she felt a sharp abdominal cramp and spoke to the store nurse, who told her nothing was amiss. But shortly afterwards, while in the bathroom, McPherson went into labour and passed out. She says she hadn’t even realised that she was pregnant.
DM is currently serving a 16-year sentence for homicide. She was first accused of intentionally inducing an illegal abortion and then the charges were raised to homicide, as has been happening in El Salvador for years now.
Her family and current legal team say the case was mishandled from the start. Paramedics found her unconscious in the bathroom where she worked, having suffered a massive loss of blood. Prosecutors accused her of murdering the fetus by repeatedly flushing the toilet. Her lawyer says the fetus fell into the toilet when she fainted, and the toilets flush automatically where she worked. She was taken to the hospital and released later that night. She was then detained in September 2015.
According to her family, her first lawyer charged a fee but did nothing to build a defence. A second lawyer was disqualified on the eve of the trial because he had not prepared for Mexico’s newly implemented judicial system, which theoretically provides for the presumption of innocence and oral arguments in court. A public defender was assigned at the last minute, but called no witnesses and presented no exculpatory evidence, such as a diagnosis from McPherson’s physician that she suffers from hypothyroidism, which may explain why she had not realised she was pregnant, her new legal team argues.
Her legal team has now filed an appeal against her sentence. She hasn’t seen her daughter since she was arrested, because the family followed the advice of a psychologist who recommended that they should not tell the child, who is now 9 years old, that her mother was incarcerated.