Court upholds charges against mother with drug addicted baby

COVINGTON COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - A petition to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals to dismiss an indictment against a mother whose newborn baby was born drug addicted has been declined.

Covington County District Attorney Greg Gambril's office praised the appeals court's decision to uphold the ruling.

Shekelia Ward was charged with Chemical Endangerment after she gave birth to a child who tested positive for cocaine earlier in 2008.

"Obviously, we are very pleased with both [Circuit Judge Charles Short's] and the appellate court's rulings," Gambril said. "A woman who takes drugs to the extent that the baby she gives birth to test positive for drugs commits a crime. She has endangered her baby with those drugs, plain and simple."

Gambril says that women who find themselves in similar situations should not be scared of prosecution if they seek help for their addiction.

"No one should fear seeking pre-natal medical advice or treatment because they know they have a drug addiction. The medical community is there to help, not blow the whistle," Gambril explained.

Covington County's D.A. has received media attention before for his prosecution of new mothers with babies who've tested positive for drugs.

"Unfortunately, there are a lot of groups out there, such as the ACLU and other liberal organizations, who see the world through a different view and have tried to challenge these prosecutions," Gambril said. "We have done everything that we can to handle the prosecution of this law in a responsible manner and will continue to follow the law as we - and our local judges - interpret it. It's not only the legal thing to do, but it is the moral thing to do as well."