- Associated Press - Friday, September 25, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Attorneys for a woman serving a 20-year sentence for giving birth to a baby with methamphetamine in his system are asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to overturn her conviction.

Melissa McCann-Arms, 39, and her son both tested positive for meth after she gave birth at a Mena hospital in November 2012. She was convicted of a felony crime called Introduction of Controlled Substance into Body of Another Person, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1YFGvLy ) reported.

On Thursday, attorney Farah Diaz-Tello with the National Advocates for Pregnant Women told the state’s high court that McCann-Arms’ sentence was the result of overreach by prosecutors and the lower court, arguing that the law used to convict McCann-Arms was intended to prosecute date-rapists, not mothers. She claimed the law didn’t apply to McCann-Arms because there’s no mention of an unborn child in the statute.

“The law prohibits the introduction of a controlled substance to another person, for example, giving someone a ‘knock out’ drug,” Diaz-Tello said. “There is no mention of placenta, or umbilical cords … or infants for that matter, that would put a woman of reasonable intelligence on notice that what she was doing could potentially break the law.”

But state Solicitor General Lee Rudofsky argued that the law applies as a matter of common sense.

“Was there a substance or controlled substance in (the baby’s) body when he was a person? The answer to that is yes,” Rudofsky said. “He was clearly a person after birth whatever we think before birth. Who was the cause of that substance being in his body? The answer to that is again undisputed. Under this statute, that is all that is necessary.”

In January, the Arkansas Court of Appeals upheld the conviction, ruling that even if the statute doesn’t apply to unborn children, McCann-Arms still transferred the drug to her child in the moments between his birth and when hospital staff cut the umbilical cord.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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