Mother denies neglect of her baby that had cocaine in his system

Mother denies neglect of her baby that had cocaine in his system

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that a woman did not neglect or abuse her baby even though the boy was born with cocaine in his system. The woman who was only identified only as “A.L.” gave birth to the baby boy in September 2007. The newborn tested positive for cocaine, but was otherwise healthy and was sent home within two days. The positive test in the mother and baby’s system prompted an investigation by the Division of Youth and Family Services.

A.L. denied using cocaine, claiming that a friends bag spilled on her. She said that the marijuana found in her system was from secondhand smoke. The judge called the explanations “preposterous” and agreed that she had abused the child. An appeals court upheld the ruling in 2011. The Supreme Court, however agreed with A.L.’s argument and decided the state law governing child abuse does not apply to a fetus. The Supreme Court found that there was also not enough evidence of the prenatal drug use to support abuse when the baby had no post birth complications.

“Court decisions in New Jersey have declined to extend the reach of a statute to an unborn child when the statute refers to a ‘person’ or a ‘child,'” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote. “Because the abuse and neglect statute, by its terms, does not extend to a fetus, the law’s protection is limited to the condition of a child after birth.”

Although the court does not condone the use of cocaine, the case is about the abuse statute and not the behavior or morality of A.L. The ruling does not affect the custody of her children, but it may affect her future employment of other areas of life.

Source: The Daily Report. “Court sides with mom whose baby had drug in system” David Porter. February 6, 2013.

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