On March 14, 2009, 31 weeks into her pregnancy, Nina Buckhalter gave birth to a stillborn baby girl. She named her Hayley Jade. 2 months later, a Grand Jury in Lamar County, Mississippi indicted Buckhalter for manslaughter. The D.A. argued that tge methamphetamine in Buckhalter’s system caused Hayley Jade’s death. The State Supreme Court heard arguements on April 2 and is expected to rule soon on whether the prosecution can move forward.
If prosecutors prevail in this case, the state sets a dangerous precedent. That unintentional pregnancy loss can be treated as a form of homocide. Mississippi’s manslaughter laws were not set up to apply to stillbirths or miscarriages. Four times between 1998-2002, Mississippi lawmakers rejected proposals that would set specific penalties for damaging a fetus by using illegal drugs.
Mississippi’s prosecutors claim that 2 other state laws allow them to charge Buckhalter. One defines manslaughter as the killing of a human being, by the act, procurement or culpable negligence of another. The other states that an unborn child at every stage of gestation, from conception to live birth is included in the state’s definition of human beings. Obviously the second reasob violates Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court decision that is U.S. Constitional law. In the U.S. Federal Law is the law of the land, therefore it supersedes state laws.
The cause of any stillbirth or miscarriage is difficult to determine. Many experts believe there is no conclusive evidence that exposure to drugs in utero can cause a miscarriage or stillbirth. But this opens the door to charge women for drinking herbal tea, eating unpasteurized cheese and lunch meats, all of which Doctors recomend against. If a women had a miscarriage after drinking herbal tea, could she be charged with manslaughter?
Critics are also saying that Buckhalter is collateral damage in Mississippi’s abortion wars. In 2011 there was a State Ballot Initiative to grant full rights to fertilized eggs, which would make all abortions illegal all of the time. The measure failed, but Pro-Life supporters vow to try again in 2015 and lawmakers are attempting to close the State’s last abortion clinic. The unintended cause of this case could be more women seeking abortions, for fear of being prosecuted.
Republicans believe they can force religious beliefs on the American public. If the Constitution diesnt say what they want, it can be avoided by nullification, which is CONSTITUTIONALY ILLEGAL. Democrars work within the confines if the Constitution, as does President Obama, who many Republicans refer to as a dictator. Simply put, the Supreme Court said abortion was legal until the viability of the fetus, which us about 23-25 weeks. It is FEDERAL LAW, which I cannot say enough, supersedes state laws. We are not a loose coalition of countries, we are the United States if America.
That being said I think anyone the does drugs, drinks or smokes cigarettes while pregnant are selfish and irresponsible. Charging them for manslaughter when it cannot be conclusively proven is an abuse if the law. Try charging them with negligence and move on from there. I am not an expert, but on this my opinion of drug use certainly effects my opinions. But that being said, can you charge a wonen for not breast feeding, that is supposed to be the healthiest way to feed a child. There are studies that suggest that not breast feeding causes health problems later in life. So are you going to charge a woman for using formula. It is a slippery slope.