Oklahoma court says child neglect charge applies to unborn


September 25, 2020

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Unborn children are included in the definition of a "child" for purposes of prosecuting child neglect cases, an Oklahoma appeals court ruled on Thursday.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals overturned a lower court ruling in a case involving Kearline Datara Anderson of Rogers County who was charged with child neglect after state prosecutors alleged she used illegal drugs while she was pregnant.

"We think it's a victory for children," said Rogers County District Attorney Matt Ballard. "Even an unborn child has a right to be free from illegal drug abuse by a parent."

Ballard said the Anderson was in her third trimester when she showed up at a hospital emergency room under the influence of drugs.

An attorney for Anderson declined to comment on the ruling.

A Rogers County judge had determined the state's child neglect law was not applicable when the victim of neglect was an unborn child.

The appeals court reversed that decision and returned the case to Rogers County for further proceedings consistent with its ruling.


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