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Bill Would Extend Child Abuse Protections To Unborn Children

/ WDAC

HARRISBURG – Indiana County Sen. Don White is drafting legislation that will hold women who knowingly and willingly use illegal drugs while pregnant accountable for the abuse of the children. The PA Supreme Court ruled on December 28 that mothers who use illegal drugs while pregnant cannot be charged with abuse of their newly born children under the state’s child protection law. Essentially, the Court ruled that Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law does not recognize unborn babies as children. White said, “This ruling is truly disturbing and I believe it will have grave consequences. My legislation will be designed to specifically address situations where a pregnant woman knowingly and willfully takes illegal drugs.” White noted that Justice Christine Donohue, in presenting the majority opinion of the Court’s split-decision, stated that the wording of the current law failed to address unborn children. “Had the General Assembly intended to include a fetus or unborn child under the protections of the law, it would have done so,” the Justice wrote. White added his bill will close the loophole in the law that was stressed by the Supreme Court. He said regardless of what the Court may rule, a mother’s responsibility begins before her child is born and that should not be erased by a perceived ambiguity in the law.

SEN. DON WHITE

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