A California woman is facing murder charges after giving birth to a stillborn baby found to have toxic levels of meth in his system. The Los Angeles Times reports some medical and civil rights groups say the charges set a dangerous precedent.
The woman, Chelsea Becker, had a history of meth addiction. She gave birth to a stillborn baby in September. After being notified by hospital staff, the coroner’s office began a criminal investigation. Following an autopsy of the baby that found toxic levels of meth, the District Attorney’s office filed a complaint charging Becker with murder. She was arrested, and remains imprisoned. Bail was set at $2 million.
Critics of the murder charge say if the prosecution is allowed to continue, the state’s homicide statute could be expanded to apply to any pregnant woman whose conduct might have resulted in losing her pregnancy.
“These are potentially dangerous precedents which make all women who have any not-perfect pregnancy event criminally liable for that event,” said Dr. Mishka Terplan of UC San Francisco, an expert in pregnancy and addiction. “And that should terrify everyone.”