By: Susan L. Pollet, Esq.
How has the legal system dealt with the problem of women’s substance abuse during pregnancy? There is no state which criminalizes drug use during pregnancy. The Supreme Court of South Carolina is the only court which has upheld such a conviction. It ruled in Whitner v State that a woman’s substance abuse in late pregnancy constitutes criminal child abuse.
Some states have ruled, in the civil child-welfare realm, that prenatal drug exposure can provide grounds for the termination of parental rights because of child abuse or neglect. In its survey, the Guttmacher Institute found as follows: