Mom Smoked Meth While Breast-Feeding Son
Pleads Guilty to Endangering 9-Month-Old Boy
ABC News, U.S.A., Aug. 17, 2005
A Salem, Oregon, U.S.A., meth-addicted mother pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that she endangered her 9-month-old son by smoking the drug while breast-feeding him.
Prosecutors say going after mothers who knowingly endanger their children by feeding them drug-tainted breast milk is another way of tackling the state's problem with methamphetamines.
The drug is such a problem that Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed a law Tuesday requiring people to get a prescription to buy cold and allergy medication containing pseudoephedrine, one of the key ingredients people use to make meth.
"Currently in Oregon we believe it's an epidemic," Oregon State Police Lt. Craig Durbin said at the governor's announcement Tuesday.
Though other states have passed laws requiring pharmacies to put products containing pseudoephedrine behind the counter and to limit how much of the drug people buy, Oregon is the first state to require a prescription to buy the popular cold and allergy medication.
Salem police said they were first alerted to the problem when Jennie Thomas brought her 9-month-old son to a local hospital.
The boy was not feeling well, but several staff members at Salem Hospital also noticed that he seemed unusually agitated. They ran some tests and discovered the infant had a high concentration of meth in his system.
"I think we, as prosecutors, have a responsibility to the children in our community, to hold parents accountable for the actions against them," Marion County deputy district attorney Sarah Morris said.
Morris, who prosecuted the case, said this case may be unusual, but meth babies are not.
"We had a week where five babies were born in our community that were meth positive," she said.
Some people in Salem said they believe that parents who expose their children to drugs should be severely punished.
"I think maybe they (the mothers who are doing meth) should be fixed," said Amber Knutsen. "Unless they go through treatment, they're not going to get better."
"Well, you know the way drugs are today, somebody's got to do something and they have to start somewhere and to me, endangering a child, that's one of the worst things you can do," said Pam Westcott, who is a grandmother.
Thomas' mother said what happened to the little boy had a sobering effect on her daughter, but court records show Thomas is still struggling with the addiction.
In July, she violated probation, admitting to an officer that she was smoking meth from a pipe.
Thomas also has two other children, both of whom were removed from her care and remain in state protective custody.
Her husband is also an admitted meth user. He also pleaded guilty to child endangerment.
ABC news affiliate KATU-TV in Portland, Ore., contributed to this report.
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Andrew T. Renouf committed suicide on or about October 17, 1995 because he had 100% of his wages taken by the Family Responsibility Office, a child support collection agency of the Government of Ontario, Canada.
He asked for assistance for food and shelter from the welfare office and was refused because he had a job, even though all of his wages were taken by the Family Responsibility Office.
Andy was a loving father that hadn't seen his daughter in 4 years.
A memorial service was held in October, 1998, for Andy in front of the Family Responsibility Office at 1201 Wilson Avenue, West Tower, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This is in the Ministry of Transportation grounds in the Keele St. & Hwy 401 area. All members of the Ontario Legislature were invited by personal letter faxed to their offices. Not one turned up. The Director of the Family Responsibility Office and his entire staff were invited to the brief service. The Director refused and wouldn't let the staff attend the service although it was scheduled for lunch time. There was a peaceful demonstration by followed by a very touching service by The Reverend Alan Stewart. The text of the service will soon be able to be read below.
The service made the TV evening news.
It was Andy's last wish that his story be told to all. YOU CAN READ HIS SUICIDE NOTE