Pregnant Montana Woman Arrested for Positive Drug Test


A Montana woman who is 12 weeks pregnant is being criminally charged after failing a drug test.

The woman is being charged with criminal endangerment of a child, a felony in Montana.

Casey Gloria Allen, 21, who faces three other felony charges since last September, tested positive for several drugs, court records show.

The charges brought against Allen are the result of so-called fetal harm laws, which are on the books in at least 38 states. The laws, written to increase the penalties for harming a woman who is pregnant, often don’t include exceptions for the pregnant woman themselves. Instead they will make the fetus a separate and distinct victim, so that a mugger for example could be charged with assaulting the woman and additionally assaulting her fetus.

Consequently, such laws leave open the possibility of arresting and charging pregnant women who engage in behavior deemed risky to them or a fetus’ health.

Prosecutors are increasingly turning to other criminal statutes like child endangerment laws to argue, like in this case, that they should be applied to a pregnant drug user.

“The reality for some of these women,” Ravalli County deputy attorney Thorin Geist told the Ravalli Republic, “is the need for drugs is stronger than any maternal instinct they have.”

Bail was set at $100,000 for Allen, who was arrested and put in jail last week. Unclear still is whether she is planning to carry the pregnancy to term, or whether she plans on getting an abortion, which is legal at 12 weeks under Roe v. Wade.

The criminalization of pregnant women who are also addicted to drugs is hardly a new phenomenon. The idea of the “crack baby” created fears that certain women—mostly those of color and those who are low-income—were unfit to be mothers. In many states, anti-choice advocates have used the “crack baby” logic, which is not based on medical evidence, to advance bills that give rights to fetuses while punishing pregnant women.

In July, a woman was arrested and charged with assault in Tennessee after her newborn tested positive for drugs under a first-of-its-kind law that expressly prohibits drug use during pregnancy.

With analysis by Jessica Mason Pieklo.

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  • fiona64

    Clearly *some people* do not understand the nature of addiction. These women need *treatment,* not jail time.

  • L-dan

    For fucks sake. It’s not a child, and if she were scheduled for an abortion the next week, it never would be.

    $10 says that now they’ll require her to carry to term regardless, so they can use the resulting kid as evidence.

  • ilr1950

    This is scary. These control freaks want to argue that the minute a woman is pregnant she becomes nothing but a walking incubator and loses all rights as a person. I agree taking drugs and drinking when youre pregnant is irresponsible but so are a lot of other things. Will pregnant women be jailed for eating fast food and gaining too much weight? Where does it end? This 1984-esque ‘Big Brother’ mentality makes my blood run cold.

  • ilr1950

    This is scary. These control freaks want to argue that the minute a woman is pregnant she becomes nothing but a walking incubator and loses all rights as a person. I agree taking drugs and drinking when youre pregnant is irresponsible but so are a lot of other things. Will pregnant women be jailed for eating fast food and gaining too much weight? Where does it end? This 1984-esque ‘Big Brother’ mentality makes my blood run cold.

  • Shan

    What *possible* positive outcome can this have? Is this woman getting drug treatment in jail? I doubt it.

    What I see with laws like this is 1) pregnant drug users avoiding pre-natal care or 2) having abortions to avoid being charged with child endangerment.

  • Nessie

    And how many cases of actual child abuse could have been investigated with the time and resources being wasted tormenting this poor women?