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Chemical Endangerment of an Unborn Child Case - July 2015

The last two weeks of July were consumed by a chemical endangerment of an unborn child case involving an inmate at the county jail. It has been a whirlwind of legal activity, which culminated in the child's mother deciding to abandon her request for an abortion. The child's mother tested positive for drugs while on bond. Her bond was revoked and she was placed in our jail. We then learned she was pregnant. She was charged with chemical endangerment of her un-born child. She responded to the charge by demanding to be transported to Huntsville to obtain an abortion. She was under the mistaken belief that aborting the child would end her prosecution for chemically endangering the child.

Rather than requesting a court order for the transport from a local judge, her lawyer enlisted the aid of the ACLU and she filed suit against the sheriff in federal court. The sheriff asserted that his policy requires that all inmates who inmates who seek non-emergent medical treatment must obtain a court order to be transported from the jail.

After reviewing applicable law, I filed a petition in juvenile court seeking the appointment of a guardian ad litem for the child. The court appointed a local attorney to represent the interests of the un-born child. A hearing was held in federal court in Huntsville on Monday, July 27th. The federal judge listened the positions of both sides and declared that he would rule by Friday, July 31st. In the meantime, the mother changed her mind. She submitted an affidavit to the federal court which stated that she no longer wanted to abort the child. The judge met with her at the federal courthouse in Florence and after making sure that this was her decision, dismissed the federal suit.

After learning of her change of heart, we entered into an agreement with the mother to send her to long-term drug treatment at a State certified facility that specializes in working with addicted women who are pregnant. It is our hope that she will receive the drug treatment she needs and will deliver a healthy baby and then lead a productive, drug-free life.


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