Woman Guilty in Death of Unborn Baby

CONWAY, South Carolina, MAY 17, 2001 (Zenit.org).- For the first time, a woman in the United States has been found guilty of homicide for taking drugs during pregnancy, an advocate for the defendant claimed.

Regina McKnight, 24, was convicted Wednesday and sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing her unborn child by using crack cocaine during her pregnancy, the Associated Press reported.

The case could allow prosecutors to charge women with neglect under other conditions, such as smoking during pregnancy, contended Wyndi Anderson, executive director of the South Carolina Advocates for Pregnant Women.

The state Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that a viable fetus is considered a child and mothers can be charged with abuse if they took drugs after their unborn child was able to live outside the womb.

McKnight´s baby was stillborn in 1999 at 35 weeks. She is the mother of three other children and is two months pregnant. McKnight´s lawyers said they will appeal the case.