An Oklahoma woman was found guilty of first degree manslaughter after suffering a miscarriage in 2020. On October 5th, 21-year-old Brittney Poolaw was sentenced to four years in prison.
Prosecutors claim that Poolaw’s drug use was the cause of her miscarriage that occurred at approximately 17 weeks gestation. However, some advocates for the mother, such as the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, have argued that her conviction is not in line with the law.
“Oklahoma’s murder and manslaughter laws do not apply to miscarriages, which are pregnancy losses that occur before 20 weeks, a point in pregnancy before a fetus is viable (able to survive outside of the womb),” said the NAPW, a non-profit advocacy organization, in a statement on Wednesday.
Under the law, a mother cannot be prosecuted for causing the death of their unborn child “unless the mother committed a crime” that caused its death. Poolaw was accused of causing her child to be stillborn on Jan. 4, 2020, due to her intravenous methamphetamine use.
At trial, however, an OBGYN that testified for the state said that controlled substances may not have directly caused of death for the fetus, per KSWO.
The NAPW also argued that blaming Poolaw’s miscarriage on her use of controlled substances is “contrary to all medical science.”