Law: Fetus Abuse?

Against doctor's orders

Last year Pamela Rae Stewart learned that her pregnancy was complicated by a misaligned placenta. Dr. Paul Zlotnik advised her to avoid street drugs, abstain from sex and take prescribed medication. When she gave birth to a brain-dead son, Zlotnik ordered tests. Authorities in El Cajon, Calif., say the results and her own statements indicate that Stewart neglected all three instructions. The infant died on New Year's Day. Now, in a unique and controversial use of state child-support law, Stewart has been charged with a misdemeanor: willfully failing to provide necessary care for her child.

Conceding that the statute language normally...

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