Some women's rights groups, civil libertarians and gynecologists say the law goes too far when new mothers are convicted and sent to jail. They contend that such cases set a bad precedent, making pregnant women "a special class of people that should be treated differently from every other citizen," said Emma Ketteringham, director of legal advocacy at the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. In one case, Amanda Kimbrough was convicted and sentenced to 10 years to life in prison after her newborn son died because he was born addicted to drugs.
Ketteringham says the law was never meant to apply to pregnant women because it mentions nothing about pregnancy. One state legislator has filed a friend-of-the-court brief, agreed, saying the law wasn't intended for use against pregnant women, but the Alabama legislature has rejected amendments to expand the law's definition of "child" to explicitly mean "fetus." Calhoun reports that soon after the law was passed state prosecutors began extending it to include language against mothers whose babies are born addicted. (Read more)