Texas Court to Prosecute Woman for Delivery of Cocaine to her Unborn Child

AMARILLO, September 9, 2004 ( - A Texas court is hearing a case where a woman has pleaded guilty to delivery of cocaine to a minor: the child in her womb. Tracy Yolanda Ward, 30, pleaded guilty to the charge in 320th state District Court, in a case that may challenge a new law that re-defines the legal term ‘individual’ as, “a human being who is alive, including an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.” Because Ward pleaded guilty, she may now appeal her conviction on constitutional grounds.

The law was intended as a protection for unborn children from assault, as in the new federal Unborn Victims of Violence act. However, the law included language that makes it inapplicable in either a criminal prosecution or a civil action to the conduct of the unborn child’s mother so that the law would not apply to a woman having an abortion. Texas Health and Saftey code makes it a second-degree felony to deliver a controlled substance or marijuana to a child younger than 18. District Court grand jury indicted Ward last year on charges that she knowingly delivered cocaine to her son, Roger, on Oct. 31, 2003.  University of Texas School of Law professor Robert O. Dawson says that the intention is clearly ideological. “Under the [U.S. Constitution], a mother has a right to abort a child,” he says. The District Attorney, Rebecca King, says she is not trying to extend the law to cover abortion. She says the new law defining an ‘individual’ did not include an exception for the mother’s conduct in the Health and Safety Code. “The clear reading of the statute is there. When somebody knowingly delivers a controlled substance to a child, then that’s that.” coverage:   ph

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