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October 25, 2017

Victories in Nevada and Pennsylvania

In Nevada, NAPW helped to get a charge of "felony drug use" against a pregnant woman dismissed. The charge was based upon an unconfirmed clinical drug screen result that was performed for the purpose of medical treatment being provided to a pregnant woman in the hospital. Nevada law explicitly states that a person cannot be prosecuted for the crime of unlawful use of a controlled substance, if the evidence to support that charge was "obtained as a result of the person seeking medical assistance." NAPW helped local defense counsel make clear that Nevada's law contains no exception for prosecution of pregnant women who seek health care.

In Pennsylvania, we learned that a woman who allegedly used heroin while pregnant and overdosed was arrested and charged with felony assault of an unborn child. This charge was brought even though Pennsylvania law clearly states that a woman cannot be prosecuted for this crime in relationship to her own pregnancy. The woman was arrested only after seeking medical assistance which resulted in emergency cesarean surgery and the birth of her child.

NAPW reached out immediately to the woman's criminal defense attorney and quickly wrote and organized an open letter to the prosecutor calling on him to drop the charges. State and national organizations, as well as Pennsylvania based experts joined the letter. The woman's attorney was incredibly grateful for the content of this letter and provided it to the Court to review in support of the motion to dismiss all the charges against her. This open letter became the subject of local news reports. We are happy to report that the felony assault charge was dismissed by the Butler County judge on October 19, 2017.