Hello! You are part of a community of millions who seek out Democracy Now! for ad-free daily news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for our in-depth stories that expose corporate and government abuses of power and lift up the voices of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We produce all of this news at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation. We do this without ads, government funding or corporate sponsorship. How? This model of news depends on support from viewers and listeners like you. Today, less than 1% of our visitors support Democracy Now! with a donation each year. If even 3% of our website visitors donated just $12 per month, we could cover our basic operating expenses for a year. Pretty amazing right? If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make a monthly contribution.

Your Donation: $
Tuesday, May 22, 2001 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | PREVIOUS: San Francisco Judge Dismisses Harassment Charges...

South Carolina Jury Convicts Drug Addicted Mother for Murder in Stillbirth

download:   Audio Get CD/DVD More Formats
This is viewer supported news

Last week a South Carolina jury convicted Regina McKnight–an African American woman–of murder and sentenced herto twelve years in prison for using crack cocaine during a pregnancy that resulted in stillbirth.

The jury, which included only one African-American, deliberated for just 15 minutes before returning its verdict,despite conflicting medical testimony that had so confused a previous jury that the judge ordered a mistrial aftertwo jurors admitted researching the medical issues at stake on the internet.

The prosecution of McKnight became possible after the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that a viable fetusis considered a child and that pregnant women could be charged with child abuse if they used drugs after the fetusbecame viable.

The verdict marks the first time in the United States that a woman has been found guilty of homicide for taking drugsduring pregnancy. The Regina McKnight case also comes on the heels of recent action by the House of Representativesto pass national legislation that would it a crime to harm a fetus.

Regina McKnight was poor, pregnant, addicted to drugs and African American. Now she is also in prison. Her case isviewed as having wide-ranging implications both for the so-called "war on drugs" and for the rights of pregnant womennationwide.


  • Lynn Paltrow, Director, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, civil rights attorney specializing inreproductive freedom and health issues, recognized in 1991 by the National Law Journal as one of the "100 mostinfluential lawyers in America."
  • Wyndi Anderson, Director, South Carolina Advocates for Pregnant Women.

Related links:

Creative Commons License The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

This is viewer supported news