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Senator criticizes prosecution of Alabama mother for taking prescription while pregnant

The prosecution “flies in the face” of the intent of the law, said Sen. Clyde Chambliss, one of the bill’s sponsors.

State Sen. Clyde Chambliss

Alabama mother Kim Blalock is scheduled to face trial for taking hydrocodone for chronic back pain while pregnant with her sixth child.

She faces a felony, not for endangering her child — Alabama lawmakers passed a law in 2016 that clarifies mothers should not be prosecuted for using prescription medication while pregnant — but for possession of a controlled substance by prescription fraud. 

Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly has said that Blalock committed prescription fraud by failing to tell her doctor about her pregnancy when refilling her hydrocodone prescription in her final six weeks of pregnancy to cope with debilitating back pain.

Now one of the lawmakers who sponsored the 2016 law protecting mothers from chemical endangerment prosecution for using prescription drugs is speaking out about the case.

“This prosecution flies in the face of the intent of Act 2016-399 considering that she visited her physician while obviously pregnant and was never asked any questions about her pregnancy,” Sen. Clyde Chambliss said in a statement. “In no way does the mother’s continued management of back pain as prescribed resemble prescription fraud, nor of having put her now healthy 1-year-old in danger.”

The Alabama Department of Human Resources briefly investigated the case and, finding no violation of child endangerment laws, did not file any charges against Blalock.

“The child went home from the hospital four days after delivery (he stayed for four days due to jaundice which was quickly resolved) with no signs of withdrawal or any negative effects of having shown the presence of opioids in his system,” Chambliss said. “The circumstances surrounding this case are precisely why we passed this legislation – to protect innocent women from frivolous prosecution and the prohibitive costs, both financially and emotionally, of having to defend themselves against these charges.”

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Chambliss is calling on the District Attorney’s office to drop the charges or it could prompt another amendment to the law.

“What is happening is a direct affront to the Alabama Legislature’s efforts to protect pregnant women from these exact situations,” Chambliss said. “If he persists in moving forward with this prosecution, we, in the Alabama Legislature, will have no choice but to introduce legislation to further clarify that these kinds of prosecutions are not appropriate.”

Blalock is scheduled to go to trial on Dec. 13 to face the charge.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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