Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Using Illegal Drugs While Pregnant is not Child Abuse

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s child protection law does not extend to fetuses or the unborn; consequently, they are excluded from being considered victims of parental neglect.

From the The Morning Call:

“The Supreme Court’s main opinion said the law’s definition of a child does not include fetuses or unborn children, and victims must be children under the Child Protective Services Law.

“The fact that the actor, at a later date, becomes a person who meets one of the statutorily-defined categories of ‘perpetrator’ does not bring her earlier actions — even if committed within two years of the child’s bodily injury — under the CPSL,” Justice Christine Donohue wrote.

The dissenting justices said the protections should extend to the point after which a child is born and damage or injury from prior actions can be observed.

The originating case involved a newborn who spent 19 days in a hospital for treatment of dependence and withdrawal symptoms induced by her mother’s pre-natal drug use.

A full copy of the Supreme Court’s opinion can be found HERE.

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