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Mother Sentenced 20 Years for Killing Daughter with Morphine in Breast Milk - The Latest Drug War Tragedy

Sad stories like these are preventable.
 
 
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A South Carolina judge has sentenced a former nurse to 20 years in prison for killing her six-week-old daughter with what prosecutors say was an overdose of morphine delivered through her breast milk. It appears to be the first prosecution of a mother killing her child with illegal toxins in her breast milk. 

From the AP:

An autopsy found a level of morphine in the baby's body that a pathologist testified could have been lethal for an adult. With no needle marks on the child's body, authorities decided the drugs must have gotten into the infant through her mother's milk, prosecutor Barry Barnette said.

A review of her medical records showed [Mother Stephanie] Greene carefully hid her pregnancy from her primary doctor. After a home pregnancy test showed she was pregnant, she told her primary doctor she needed to go to a gynecologist for a birth control. She then got prenatal care from that doctor while not telling her all the painkillers she was taking. She also skipped appointments with her primary physician when it was obvious she was pregnant and sent her husband to pick up her painkiller prescriptions, Barnette said.

It's a tragic story, and it could have been prevented in a society that doesn't stigmatize opiate addiction, jails chronic drug users, ostracizes pregnant addicts, and lacks the capacity to help mothers make important decisions and the health of their children. How did Greene's addiction start? 

Greene spent more than 10 years racked with chronic pain after a car wreck before her unexpected pregnancy with her husband in 2010, attorney Rauch Wise said. Society wants to portray people who need painkillers as drug addicts and horrible people, but Greene and others often are just trying to get through each day without debilitating pain, her lawyer said. "She needed those meds to get up in the morning and function. ... She was on total disability because of her pain, her fibromyalgia and all the other things wrong with her."

As Jag Davies recently wrote for AlterNet, the time is nigh -- tragedies like these are quite preventable...and it starts with ending the war on drugs

Jan Frel is AlterNet's editor-at-large and associate publisher. 

 
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