Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Saturday, April 8, 2006

South Carolina Woman Faces 10 Years in Prison for Drug Abuse While Pregnant

A South Carolina woman faces up to 10 years in prison for using drugs while she was pregnant that harmed her fetus.  Tests showed that the male fetus was about 22 weeks along when the woman went into labor and the child was stillborn. South Carolina is one of the few remaining states that uses child-abuse laws to prosecute women who use drugs during pregnancy.

Regular readers may want to review this past Wednesday’s Blog where we reported the decision of New Mexico's Court of Appeals, which ruled that the state cannot prosecute a mother for child abuse because she used cocaine during her pregnancy.  The New Mexico court justified its ruling on the basis that the New Mexico Legislature could not have intended for a viable fetus to be considered a human being in the context of the child abuse statute.  The New Mexico defendant told authorities she used  crack cocaine and alcohol prior to the birth of her daughter who had high levels of cocaine in her. Other jurisdictions with similar child abuse statutes have concluded that they do not apply to an unborn fetus.   South Carolina News Source:  John Chamblisss, The Post and Courier, For the complete story, please click here (last visited April 8, 2006, reo).

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