Kentucky Court Blocks Unconstitutional Prosecutions Of Pregnant Women

June 17, 2010

Court Finds Law Forbids Charging Pregnant Women Who Test Positive For Drugs With Child Abuse

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

FRANKFORT, KY – The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled today in the case of Cochran v. Commonwealth that prosecutors may not pursue criminal charges against a woman just because she decided to continue her pregnancy while struggling with drug addiction. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Kentucky had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.

The following can be attributed to Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project:

"The court is right in deciding that if we allow pregnant women to be incarcerated for drug addiction, it would lead to a slippery slope – what would stop a woman from being charged for speeding, smoking or failing to get prenatal care? A woman cannot be punished or subjected to harsher penalties just because she is pregnant."

The following can be attributed to Bill Sharp, staff attorney with the ACLU of Kentucky:

"We are pleased that the court upheld the legislature's unambiguous declaration that incarcerating pregnant women who are struggling to overcome addiction makes for bad law and even worse public policy. As the Kentucky legislature has found, the way to ensure the health of mothers and babies is through access to prenatal care and treatment programs, not jail time."
 
The court's ruling can be found here: www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/cochran-v-commonwealth-kentucky-supreme-court-ruling

The ACLU friend-of-the-court brief can be found here: www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/cochran-v-commonwealth-kentucky-aclu-amicus-brief

Statistics image