RSS 2.0RSS 1.0Whitner v. South Carolina
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1 US SC: Mothers On Drugs - Hot Topic In SCWed, 01 Dec 2004
Source:Spartanburg Herald Journal (SC) Author:Powell, Lynne Area:South Carolina Lines:126 Added:12/02/2004

The case of a Gaffney woman facing felony child neglect charges after she and her newborn had cocaine in their bloodstream has ignited debate on whether addicted mothers should be prosecuted.

Pamela Jane Cruz-Reyes of Gaffney was charged with unlawful child neglect on Nov. 27 after she and her newborn tested positive for cocaine. A magistrate Monday ordered her to have no contact with her child.

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster contends the law is clear: Taking cocaine is illegal and such conduct won't be tolerated.

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2US SC: Fetal-Drug Prosecution Ignites Debate in S.C.Sun, 23 Feb 2003
Source:Post and Courier, The (Charleston, SC) Author:Stevens, Kathy Area:South Carolina Lines:Excerpt Added:02/23/2003

State Stands Alone in Arresting Women Who Engage in Risky Behavior During Pregnancy

It should have been among the most celebrated days of Regina McKnight's life.

She was to deliver her third child, a girl she'd named Mercedes, but the 5-pound infant was stillborn. An autopsy revealed traces of a cocaine byproduct in the infant's blood.

Results were given to police, and McKnight was charged with homicide by child abuse. That day she joined more than 100 women in South Carolina who have faced criminal charges in the past 15 years for using cocaine while pregnant.

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3 US SC: Stillborn Baby Case May Alter Abuse LawSun, 03 Nov 2002
Source:Sun News (SC) Author:Root, Tonya Area:South Carolina Lines:95 Added:11/05/2002

The S.C. Supreme Court's decision on a Conway woman's appeal of her 12-year prison sentence could change the way pregnant women who use drugs are treated in the state.

The court will hear arguments from Regina Denise McKnight of Conway on Wednesday in Columbia. In May 2001, an Horry County jury convicted McKnight of homicide by child abuse for using crack cocaine while she was pregnant.

Her stillborn baby girl, delivered May 15, 1999, had a byproduct of cocaine in her blood. Prosecutors determined McKnight, who had a history of drug use, had smoked crack cocaine while pregnant.

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4 US SC: High Court Overturns Crack Mom ConvictionTue, 24 Jul 2001
Source:State, The (SC) Author:Collins, Jeffrey Area:South Carolina Lines:86 Added:07/24/2001

Technicality Cited By S.C. Justices; Fetal Abuse Issues Remain Unchanged

The state Supreme Court overturned Brenda Peppers' conviction on charges she harmed her child by taking crack cocaine while pregnant.

But Monday's ruling wasn't the complete victory the Greenwood County woman wanted.

The justices unanimously agreed to toss aside Peppers' guilty plea to unlawful conduct toward a child because of a technicality, saying she only agreed to plead guilty if her case could be appealed to the high court.

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5 US SC: South Carolina Fetal Protection LawsWed, 13 Jun 2001
Source:National Public Radio (US)          Area:South Carolina Lines:118 Added:06/13/2001


Next week, the South Carolina Supreme Court will be asked to re-examine a controversial ruling on pregnant women and substance abuse. Back in 1997, the court ruled that expectant mothers who use drugs can be convicted of child abuse or other crimes. Several women have since face criminal charges after delivering babies that tested positive for marijuana or cocaine. Critics say the policy is too harsh and discourages drug-addicted women from seeking prenatal care. NPR's Adam Hochberg reports.

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6 US SC: PUB LTE: Treatment Programs Best Way To Fight DrugsMon, 26 Jun 2000
Source:State, The (SC) Author:Anderson, Wyndi Area:South Carolina Lines:46 Added:06/26/2000

I read with concern your editorial, "Limits during pregnancy should be defined in law" (May 23). While much of what is stated is true, the conclusion, "The idea of declaring certain activities during pregnancy to be illegal is a sound one," flies in the face of every leading medical group to address the issues of pregnancy and addiction. Groups ranging from the March of Dimes to the American Academy of Pediatrics to the American Medical Association have all recognized that treating any aspect of pregnancy as a criminal justice matter not only threatens pregnant women, but will undermine the health interests of fetuses and children.

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7 US SC: PUB LTE: Slippery Slope?Tue, 11 Apr 2000
Source:Point (SC) Author:Anderson, Wyndi Marie Area:South Carolina Lines:79 Added:04/11/2000

In your last issue you ran an excellent story about the policy in South Carolina of using the criminal justice system to punish women who are pregnant and using drugs ["Body Politics," Fall 1999]. The story ends pointing to the possibility that the case will be used to undermine the right to choose to have an abortion and to punish women for a range of behaviors beyond drug use. Unfortunately, we now know those things are actually happening in South Carolina -- and that women are being deterred from health care as a result.

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8 US SC: PUB LTE: Treat, Not PunishSat, 27 Mar 1999
Source:The Post and Courier (SC)          Area:South Carolina Lines:52 Added:03/27/1999

I am writing in response to the March 15 article regarding a study linking mothers who smoke cigarettes while pregnant and criminal behavior in their children. Studies such as these without regard to social class, home environment and other similar factors are highly questionable.

Publication of this article is reminiscent of the media hype on the so-called "crack baby" that began in the 1980s and continues today. The cocaine "studies" claiming to find almost universal harm were found to be inconclusive or not based on empirical scientific research that must include all factors affecting a child's health.

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9 US SC: Crack Mom Seeks Release From PrisonWed, 16 Dec 1998
Source:Rock Hill Herald, The (SC)          Area:South Carolina Lines:27 Added:12/16/1998

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A South Carolina woman convicted of child neglect because she used crack cocaine while pregnant wants a federal judge to set her free from state prison so she can be with her three children.

Cornelia Whitner's case has become a rallying point for women's groups and doctors who say jailing pregnant women with substance abuse problems discourages them from seeking proper prenatal care. The policy is based on a landmark 1996 state court ruling that a viable fetus can be considered a child.

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10 US SC: Crack mom doing time as her children growSun, 26 Apr 1998
Source:Standard-Times (MA) Author:Levinson, Arlene Area:South Carolina Lines:128 Added:04/26/1998

EASLEY, S.C. Late in the afternoon of Feb. 5, 1992, the police chief, a detective and two social workers entered the maternity ward of Easley Baptist Medical Center and took custody of 3-day-old Tevin Dashuan Whitner.

Not finding the infant's mother, they left a notice on her hospital bed.

The next morning, police came back, arrested Cornelia Whitner and led her away handcuffed and weeping. She had smoked crack cocaine before going into labor and the drug was found in her newborn's urine. To authorities this was child neglect.

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11US SC: Prosecutor Goes After Pregnant Addicts For AbuseMon, 19 Jan 1998
Source:Houston Chronicle (TX) Author:Bragg, Rick Area:South Carolina Lines:Excerpt Added:01/19/1998

South Carolina attorney general is enjoying his latest controversy

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Pat Buchanan gazes approvingly from a framed photograph on Charles M. Condon's office wall.

"To Charlie Condon," reads the inscription, "who is saving lives while others prattle on about the rights of drug addicts."

Even without that endorsement of Condon's most disputed act as South Carolina attorney general -- prosecuting pregnant crack cocaine addicts for child neglect and even manslaughter -- the Republican prosecutor's political ideals shine clear.

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12US SC: Pregnant Woman Convicted for DrugsFri, 31 Oct 1997
Source:Los Angeles Times (CA) Author:Holland, Jesse J. Area:South Carolina Lines:Excerpt Added:10/31/1997

COLUMBIA, S.C.Following up on a ruling that found a viable fetus is a person covered by the state's child abuse laws, the state Supreme Court has upheld a woman's conviction for taking drugs while pregnant.

The court ruled 3/2 for the second time in as many years to uphold the conviction of Cornelia Whitner, who gave birth to a baby boy with cocaine in his blood. Ms. Whitner, whose son is living with relatives, was sentenced to eight years in prison for child neglect in 1992 after her newborn tested positive for cocaine. A judge freed her 19 months later, saying child abuse laws do not apply to prenatal actions.

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13US SC: South Carolina Supreme Court extends childabuse law to fetusFri, 31 Oct 1997
Source:Houston Chronicle (TX) Author:Lewin, Tamar Area:South Carolina Lines:Excerpt Added:10/31/1997

In a ruling that runs contrary to every other state supreme court that has addressed the issue, South Carolina's highest court this week upheld the criminal prosecution of pregnant women who used drugs, finding that a viable fetus is a "person" covered by the state's childabuse laws.

The ruling came in the case of Cornelia Whitner, who in 1992 pleaded guilty to child neglect after her baby was born with traces of cocaine in its system. Whitner, 33, of Central, S.C., a tiny town in the area of the state, was sentenced to eight years in prison.

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