In 2008, Amanda Kimbrough experienced one of the most horrible things an expectant mother can ever face: Her son Timmy was born and then died 19 minutes later. The child had been stillborn, and the memory still haunts Amanda to this day:
“Tim Jr would be six years old [today]. And not a day goes by I don’t think of him.”
Amanda Kimbrough was incarcerated in one of the toughest prisons in Alabama due to the stillbirth of her son. How is that possible? Well, Alabama prosecuted Kimbrough under the statute of “chemical endangerment” of her fetus due to her recurring struggle with drug addiction. She was even charged with a class A felony – the equivalent of murder – and taken all the way to trial. This is thought to be the only full trial hearing of its sort anywhere in the United States.
Kimbrough’s case eventually went all the way to the Alabama Supreme Court, and in the process it set a new precedent. In essence, it says that all pregnant women may be prosecuted for any harm they might cause their fetus at any time after the moment of conception.
Fearing she would receive a harsher sentence if she took the case to trial, Kimbrough agreed to plead guilty to the charge and received a 10 year sentence. She served three years of that sentence and is now free again.
Amanda Kimbrough’s case is part of a larger trend in states across the country from Alabama to South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Hundreds of women have been prosecuted –some for murder – for allegedly inflicting harm on their fetuses, even though in many of these cases their pregnancies ended with the birth of healthy babies.
Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, says that the spread of these aggressive new tactics by prosecutors has led to the effectively criminalized pregnancy in some states:
“States are saying that they know what is best for fertilized eggs, and because they know best they can tell a pregnant women that she’s a criminal and that she must do whatever her doctor – or a social worker, or law enforcement officer, or lawyer appointed to represent her fetus – says.”
This is the direct result of the “personhood” agenda being pursued by anti-choice activists and lawmakers.
Paltrow says that the impact of such a “personhood” approach has been that a system of separate and unequal laws has been created for pregnant women:
“It creates a burden on all fertile women – because once there is a fertilized egg something they did yesterday that wasn’t a crime could be a crime today. So if they are taking painkillers for a painful back, they are now guilty of a crime.”
And now Amanda Kimbrough has to live not only with the loss of her son Timmy, but also a felony conviction on her record:
“I continue to give a lot to God and just hang on. I know I made a mistake, a fatal one I have to live with every day. I just take it one day at a time. God has a reason for everything even if I don’t know.”
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org.