BUTLER (KDKA/AP) – A Butler County judge has tossed out a felony assault charge against a woman who overdosed on heroin while pregnant.
On June 23, Kasey Dischman, 30, of East Butler, overdosed while she was seven months pregnant, which forced doctors to perform an emergency C-section.
Dischman gave birth to a premature girl, who may suffer lasting injuries.
She was initially charged with aggravated assault on an unborn child. Today, the judge ruled that state law protects pregnant women from such charges.
“As I indicated to the court, this is a very slippery slope for all pregnant women. There are drug addicted babies born every day, and if this charge applies, it may apply across the board depending on how the child would be addicted,” defense attorney Joseph Smith said in July.
In today’s ruling, Butler Common Pleas Judge William Shaffer agreed, writing that while “the defendant is alleged to have done a senseless, selfish, and heinous act, that allegedly resulted in devastating and permanent injuries to her unborn child. This Court is nonetheless constrained…”
On Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Laura Pitchford argued that lawmakers in 1997 couldn’t have anticipated the heroin epidemic or its effects, and authorities need to be able to bring such charges to protect infants.
The lesser offenses, including endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors still stand.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)