Saturday, November 01, 2003

A local woman recently gave birth to a newborn baby with a blood alcohol level of 0.18. That's more than double the state's legal intoxication rate (0.08) for adults. Unfortunately, the sad case of the drunk newborn is pitting child welfare advocates and pro-abortion supporters against each other with the little baby stuck in the middle.

Originally, the Warren County (NY) district attorney wanted the woman to be sent to rehab. But the DA later learned that she'd already had similiar problems in a neighboring county. What I wanted to do was try to get her into in-house rehab, and release her from jail to get the treatment she obviously needs. We learned after she was produced in court, that she had other legal problems in Saratoga, related to similar legal conduct, noted the district attorney. The indication from Saratoga County officials is she was not going to rehab and had refused on a number of occasions with them.

Capital News 9 also reported that the woman "admitted in her sworn statement that this wasn't the first time she had gotten drunk while she was pregnant.

As a result, the district attorney decided to charge the woman with endangering the welfare of a child. Not surprisingly, this caught the attention of advocacy groups. Since the fetus isn't a child, according to pro-abortion forces, causing your fetus to become intoxicated is no big deal. Or at least not a form of child abuse. Accordingly, four dozen advocacy groups have petitioned the district attorney not to press the child endangerment charges against the woman.

The abortion debate is so tricky for one reason. A fetus may not be a full-fledged person independent of the mother, but it's not a body part just like any other. The fetus is the only part of a woman's body that can become its own person. In that way, it's qualitatively different from the tonsils or fingers. If the law does not recognize a fetus as a whole person with the same rights as the mother, then at least it should be given a special status somewhere between that of a full-fledged human being and that of an appendix.

There's just something about this case that seems wrong. Ideally, the woman would realize her mistakes (plural, remember) and voluntarily submit to counselling. But she's already rejected counseling for drinking during her previous pregnancies. And the NYCLU will argue that it's her right to do so. One advantage of prosecuting the woman is that, if convicted, it gives the system leverage to force her to submit to the counseling she so obviously needs. Without that stick, she can get plastered the next time she's pregnant and we're all supposed to feel sorry for her when it's her poor kids who will suffer.

There's one fact that no one can dispute. Her baby was born drunk. The baby was born drunk as a result of conscious actions she made. The baby may or may not have with fetal alcohol syndrome. Or maybe her next one will. Babies with fetal alcohol syndrome can have facial abnormalities, growth deficiency and evidence of central nervous system dysfunction, mental retardation, poor motor skills and hand-eye coordination. They may also have a complex pattern of behavioral and learning problems, including difficulties with memory, attention and judgment. All this because the baby's mom felt like getting plastered and, according to tne NYCLU, there's nothing society can do about it. Except, of course, pick up the tab for the baby's medical care, special education and Social Security disability.

No kid should have to suffer like that simply because the kid was "only" a fetus at the time. If we can't make her to get the help she needs so she doesn't condemn any more kids to that kind of life, then all our incessant prattle about how "kids are the future" will be exposed as a sham. If what this woman did was legal, then there's something wrong with the law.

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