According to court papers, an Oklahoma woman Brittney Poolaw had a miscarriage due to her drug use. And in Oct. 2020, local prosecutors charged Poolaw with 1st-Degree Manslaughter. According to several news reports, Poolaw admitted to using intravenous methamphetamine when she delivered her stillborn child on Jan. 4. 2020.
Court records say Poolaw, now 21, was transported to a local hospital after giving birth to the child at home. And during her hospital stay, she confirmed with hospital staff that she used meth and marijuana. News reports say the “medical examiner’s report listed the unborn child’s cause of death as intrauterine fetal demise due to maternal meth use.” The autopsy on the unborn child revealed it had died at 17 weeks gestation, and according to court papers, a toxicology report on the fetus showed the brain and liver had tested positive for meth.
Poolaw was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and given four years in prison after prosecutors said the mother caused the baby’s death due to her reckless actions.
However, many advocates say Poolaw’s conviction is wrong.
“Oklahoma’s murder and manslaughter laws do not apply to miscarriages, which are pregnancy losses that occur before 20 weeks, a point in pregnancy before a fetus is viable (able to survive outside of the womb),” said the NAPW, a non-profit advocacy organization, in a statement on Wednesday.
The NAPW further stated, “Not even the medical examiner’s report identifies use of controlled substances as the cause of the miscarriage. Even with this lack of evidence, the prosecutor moved forward with the charge.”