Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE ACLU Wins "Pregnancy Police" Case; Pennsylvania's Abortion Control Act Does Not Apply to Prosecution of Pregnant Women For IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, February 22, 1994 PITTSBURGH --The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has thrown out charges against a Westmoreland County woman charged with criminal delivery of a controlled substance and reckless endangerment for alleged drug use during pregnancy in 1991. While Pennsylvania's Abortion Control Act defines an "unborn child" as a human being, the court has ruled that the legislative intent of that act does not extend to the prosecution of pregnant women for their prenatal conduct. A three-judge panel ruled late Tuesday that the Commonwealth may not prosecute Michelle L. Kemp for three charges: delivery of a controlled substance, reckless endangerment of another person and child endangerment. The ACLU's national Women's Rights Project and the Greater Pittsburgh chapter of the ACLU represented Kemp in a case that has focused public attention on continuing attempts by local governments to misuse criminal statutes to punish pregnant women, rather than provide adequate drug rehabilitation treatment for their addictions. "Those who are really concerned about the health of the developing fetus should concentrate on helping the pregnant woman, who deserves our compassion and adequate prenatal care," said Sara L. Mandelbaum, Acting Director of the ACLU's national Women's Rights Project. "I hope this ruling will deter the `pregnancy police' throughout the country and instead point out the need for adequate substance abuse treatment for pregnant women." Witold Walczak, Executive Director of the ACLU's Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, stated: "The taxpayers of this Commonwealth should not be burdened by further appeals of this decision, when every court in the country that has addressed similar prosecutions has dismissed them as legally inappropriate and counterproductive from a public health perspective." The Commonwealth had attempted to bolster its argument by citing language from the Abortion Control Act of Pennsylvania which defined "unborn child" as a human being from fertilization until birth. The court ruled that there was no precedent "for the type of biological delivery concept espoused by the Commonwealth." The ruling further states that in defining the crimes of "recklessly endangering another person" and "endangering the welfare of children" the key words in Pennsylvania's criminal statutes are "person" and "child." The Court concluded that, "... the legislative intent in the Abortion Control Act is inappposite to the purpose of the penals laws and the Crimes Code." David J. Millstein, ACLU cooperating attorney in the case, praised the decision: "The opinion demonstrates a sensitivity for the individual rights of our client as well as a recognition of women's unique circumstances." --30-- ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank