The Mississippi Supreme Court is deciding whether to charge a woman for manslaughter after she gave birth to a stillborn baby.
(Image source: WLOX ) BY CHRISTIAN BRYANT A Mississippi woman who allegedly took illegal drugs during her pregnancy, then gave birth to a stillborn child, could be charged with manslaughter. The decision might turn mothers who miscarry or deliver stillborn babies into criminals. The subject of debate: Nina Buckhalter, the woman accused of doing meth during her pregnancy who then gave birth to a stillborn child in 2009. Prosecutors argue Buckhalter “willfully” killed her child through negligence. (Via WREG ) “We believe that anytime (sic) you have a woman that is pregnant, who ingests illegal, illicit drugs to the point that it causes that child's death, we believe it's a crime.” (Via WLOX ) The state’s Supreme Court heard arguments last month, but sources point out Mississippi’s laws aren’t intended to prosecute women in cases of stillbirths or miscarriages. The Huffington Post reports Supreme Court Justice Leslie D. King asked during oral arguments: “Doctors say women should avoid herbal tea, things like unpasteurized cheese, lunch meats. Exactly what are the boundaries?” An attorney for National Advocates for Pregnant Women — a group helping to defend Buckhalter — told Mother Jones “the state would be setting a ‘dangerous precedent’ that ‘unintentional pregnancy loss can be treated as a form of homicide … ’” According to Salon , pro-choice advocates believe that precedent could discourage women battling drug addiction during pregnancy from getting help in fear of being prosecuted. Some also say it would create additional barriers to safe abortion care. No word yet on when Mississippi’s Supreme Court will rule on the case. If convicted, Buckhalter could face up to 20 years in prison.