Toad Suck, AR (no I am not making that up) resident Sasha Adams was arrested in November 2013 in a Conway, AR bar for endangering the welfare of a child. Her child. Apparently waitress Jackie Connors believed Ms. Adams was endangering her child and called the police.
Police stated, “… we got a report that you are drinking alcohol while breast-feeding.” Ms. Adams replied, “…Okay. I didn’t know that it was illegal.”
It wasn’t. But the officers made a judgment call and arrested Adams anyway, implying alcohol laced breast milk endangered the welfare of her child.
What captured my interest were just a handful of bloggers. On Friday, “hlandggreenenga” noted “Protecting others, especially children and the elderly who can’t protect themselves IS our business. In some states it’s a crime not to report what seems to be criminal (sic) acts against them.” Blogger “allen bellman” wrote, “Nothing but praise for the waitress, and for the restaurant, a customer is more valuable then a health of a baby. The mother ?????? I guess everyone is called a mother. And who the heck would want to see a woman breast feeding (sic) a baby while eating in a restaurant.
Strangely it’s not a crime in any state for a woman to carry a pregnancy full-term if she has a drug problem, and no state has a law that makes a woman liable for the outcome of her pregnancy. Still, many states can arrest a woman for child abuse on the basis of positive tests for – or reports of – substance abuse. Poor, black, southern women are mostly likely to be arrested, with 74% of those arrests requiring a public defender.
To highlight, South Carolina mother Stephanie Greene, 39 was sentenced this past Friday to 20 years in prison for killing her six-week-old daughter via an overdose of morphine delivered through her breast milk. Prosecutors stated Ms. Greene was a nurse and knew the dangers of taking painkillers while pregnant and breast feeding, but chose to conceal her pregnancy from doctors to keep receiving prescriptions.
Those involved with the case say this was the first time a mother had been prosecuted for killing her child through drug-tainted breast milk. Greene’s attorney, Rauch Wise, said his client needed painkillers to function with the chronic pain she suffered from in addition to fibromyalgia. An expert witness for the defense had testified that a genetic test would have shown whether Alexis lacked a specific enzyme that could have broken down morphine. Still, Wise expects Greene to appeal Greene’s conviction, claiming there is little scientific evidence to prove a fatal dose of morphine can pass from mother to child through breastfeeding.
Quoting directly from respected medical literature, “… opiates used as medicines — morphine, meperidine and codeine — are excreted into the milk in minimal amounts and are compatible with breastfeeding, as are benzodiazepines, as long as they are taken in controlled doses. These are the drugs most frequently prescribed to women during pregnancy and after birth.”
Nonetheless blogger Joeline Starkey wrote of Greene, “… this sick, twisted incubator (she doesn’t deserve the title mother), should serve prison for the rest of her miserable life for the murder of her baby! it takes a sick person to do what she did, and she will get what she deserves.”
And just as a side note … neither the husband for Ms. Greene nor Ms. Adams was ever charged with a crime or neglect. Why Not?
Returning full-circle, the world for those like Sasha Adams and Stephanie Greene is changing. And to the Jackie Connors of the world who want to control every aspect’s of a child’s life, from impregnation to adulthood, I request them ponder the original questions posed in my essay “Real Solutions Never Fit.” None of them have yet to be answered.
“Questions must be asked and answers must be given. Does second hand smoke harm an unborn child? How about a living child? If second hand smoke does indeed inflict harm, do we punish the mother for allowing harm to her child or should we punish both the mother and smoker? Here’s another; the automobile is great for personal freedom, but exhaust fumes are known cancer toxins. Should a car owner be punished for assault if their vehicle passes a pregnant woman? Can a child sue their next door neighbor for cancer causing toxins twenty-years later? If “personhood initiative” backers really want to be fair, shouldn’t society ban air fresheners, ammonia, bleach, antifreeze, drain cleaners, laundry detergent and oven cleaners? How come we don’t jail company executives who produce toxic products that local stores stock and sell? And how do we prosecute those local store owners? If a pregnant US citizen travels overseas and experiences a miscarriage in another country, how do we investigate and apply proper jurisprudence? Or do we simply perform extradition back to the country where the crime occurred? Can abortion doctors be tried for crimes against humanity? Should society charge parents for allowing their children play in full-contact sports such as football; thereby exposing them to potentially certifiable head trauma?”
So what’s the solution? The solution does not easily fit into our black and white news cycle. Real solutions never do.