by Steven Ertelt
April 4, 2006
Austin, TX (LifeNews.com) — A Texas appeals court last week overturned the conviction of two pregnant women who had used illegal drugs while pregnant. A pro-life group agreed with the decision saying prosecuting women in such cases could lead them to have abortions.
Tracy Yolanda Ward had used crack cocaine during her pregnancy and Rhonda Tulane Smith was on methamphetamine during hers. Both of their babies were born with drug additions because of their actions.
Prosecutors sought to convict the women under Texas’ unborn victims law, which is meant to prosecute criminals who attack a pregnant woman and kill or injure her unborn child.
Both received sentences of five years of probation.
But the appeals court overturned the decision, something officials at Texas Right to Life say was the right decision.
The pro-life organization said that, while unborn children deserve protection as individuals, pregnant women should receive treatment and substance abuse help rather than be prosecuted.
"We don’t want an unborn child to be harmed in any way," Stacey Emick, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, told The New Standard newspaper. "So the preference is for healthcare providers to intervene and to support a woman in keeping her child."
Emick, whose group pushed for the Prenatal Protection Act to protect unborn babies from act of violence, said the worry is that if the state starts prosecuting pregnant women that a woman in a similar situation "may have an abortion. So, we would rather her not even think of that."
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is pro-life, agrees. He issued a legal opinion in January saying that the PPA does not apply to pregnant women like Ward and Smith.
Other starts are looking to target pregnant women who use illegal drugs during their pregnancies. The pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, a New York law firm, reports that Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and Louisiana have all enacted laws to prosecute the women.
Related web sites:
Texas Right to Life – https://www.texasrighttolife.org