Chapter 7.C.3 (or 5.C.3) -- Pregnant Women and Drug Use


Notes: Maternal Substance Abuse


Note 2. Two Views on Legislative Intent.


In State v. McKnight, 576 S.E.2d 168 (S.C.), cert. denied 540 U.S. 819 (2003), the South Carolina Supreme Court cited Whitner in affirming a defendant’s conviction of homicide by child abuse through prenatal use of cocaine. The defendant gave birth to a stillborn child estimated to be at 34-37 weeks of gestation; metabolites of cocaine were found during an autopsy of the fetus. The defendant was sentenced to a twenty year term of imprisonment.


In the Matter of M.J.J., 2005 WL 873305 (Tenn. Ct. App.) (prenatal substance abuse constitutes child abuse under relevant statute; finding along with other facts supported termination of mother’s parental rights).


State v. Ikerd, 850 A.2d 516 (N.J. Super. 2004) (“We hold in this appeal that a pregnant, drug-addicted woman who has violated the conditions of her probation cannot be sentenced to prison for the avowed purpose of safeguarding the health of her fetus. To have done so is contrary to law and constituted an abuse of discretion.”).