Legal Experts Set to Examine Controversial ‘Lung Float’ Forensic Test Used to Convict Women of Murder

Legal experts from Boston University School of Law and Northeastern University intend to study the medical underpinnings of the lung float test, a dubious forensic test that has helped send some women to prison for murder though the women insisted they had stillbirths, and determine whether it should be used in court, Duaa Eldeib reports for ProPublica.

Several medical examiners said the test is unreliable, it had been used in at least 11 cases since 2013 in which women were charged criminally, and it has helped to put nine of those women behind bars. The test has been around for centuries and remains essentially unchanged in spite of medical advances. Typically used in cases when births occurred outside of a hospital, critics have likened the test to witch trials. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the constitutional right to abortion, experts fear the test may play a larger role in cases when police and prosecutors raise questions about the circumstances of a birth.

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