Pregnant Woman Avoids Child Endangerment Charge After Positive Drug Test

By McCarton Ackerman 11/10/14

Though Casey Allen avoided prosecution for allegedly endangering her unborn child, she still remains behind bars on drug charges.

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A pregnant Montana woman has avoided a child endangerment charge for endangering a fetus by using illegal drugs, but will still remain behind bars after pleading guilty to separate drug and theft charges.

Prosecutors slammed Casey Allen with a child endangerment charge after testing positive for drugs because they believed her drug addiction put her fetus at risk. They also said that she had not sought treatment for her addiction over an extended period of time. The Montana Reproductive Rights Coalition stood by Allen and said the charge was unconstitutional, with which Judge Jeffrey Langton agreed.

His ruling on Sept. 22, which has only just now come to light, said that a "12-week-old fetus is not a person under the criminal endangerment statute. The state failed to allege sufficient facts showing that Allen engaged in conduct that created substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another."

But after pleading guilty to separate drug and theft charges this week, Allen will remain behind bars without the possibility of bail. Judge James Haynes seemed opposed to Langton's initial ruling in claiming she is "a flight risk, a danger to the community, to herself and to her unborn child." Ravalli County Attorney Bill Fulbright said prosecutors will recommend jail and probationary time, as well as the most intensive drug treatment program the DOC has available.

Last July, Tennessee native Mallory Loyola was the first pregnant mother to be charged with assault under the state’s controversial new law passed this year. The law, signed by Governor Bill Haslam in May, allows law officials to charge and prosecute a pregnant woman with assault for using an illegal substance while pregnant if the child is harmed or becomes addicted to the drug. Loyola, 26, tested positive for meth along with her newborn baby and was given a misdemeanor charge.

The bill has generated considerable opposition since being passed, but Haslam has downplayed the controversy by saying that any charges and potential jail time will be dropped if the mother completes an approved drug treatment program.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.