(MONTGOMERY) - Attorney General Luther Strange said today's ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court, affirming that the state's chemical endangerment of a child law does protect unborn children, is a landmark victory. In its decision today, the Court held that "the plain meaning of the word 'child' in the chemical endangerment statute includes unborn children."
"The Court has ratified our argument that the public policy of our state is to protect life, both born and unborn," said Attorney General Strange. "It is a tremendous victory that the Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed the value of all life, including those of unborn children whose lives are among the most vulnerable of all."
The Court upheld the convictions of two women whose use of illegal drugs while they were pregnant caused their unborn children to suffer exposure to those drugs. The Court's ruling was a consolidation of two cases-Ankrom v. State, arising from Coffee County, and Kimbrough v. State, from Colbert County. In both cases, the defendants were charged with chemically endangering their children under an Alabama law that makes it a crime to endanger a child by exposing him or her to a controlled substance, a chemical substance such as precursors for manufacturing drugs, or drug paraphernalia.
Hope Ankrom and her newborn son both tested positive for cocaine when the child was born on January 31, 2000. Medical records documented Ankrom's substance abuse during her pregnancy. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years' imprisonment, which was suspended, and placed on probation for one year.
Amanda Helaine Borden Kimbrough's son, T.K., was born premature on April 29, 2008, and he died 19 minutes later after efforts to save him failed. An autopsy determined that his death was caused by "acute methamphetamine intoxication." Kimbrough pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.
Attorney General Strange commended the outstanding work of the his Criminal Appeals Division in handling these cases, noting in particular Assistant Attorneys General Cecil Brendle and Michael Dean.