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Dozens of women who used drugs while pregnant have faced criminal charges. Experts expect even more cases now that Roe has been overturned.

Brooke Shoemaker, 42
Location: Auburn, Alabama
Conviction: Chemical endangerment of a child resulting in a death
Status: Serving 18-year prison sentence

Shoemaker, who started experimenting with meth in college, had a stillborn baby at home in 2017. A pathologist ruled cause of death “undetermined”; the elected county coroner cited chemical endangerment and methamphetamine toxicity. Shoemaker believed a jury would acquit her for lack of medical evidence; she was wrong. 

Elizabeth Thompson, 42
Location: Chapin, South Carolina 
Conviction: Unlawful neglect of a child
Status: Sentenced to 8 years; paroled after 17 months

When Thompson gave birth to a stillborn baby in 2016, her blood tested positive for meth. In prison, she got training and now works as a professional peer support worker: “I’m using that experience as best I can to put good out into this world and help other people.” 

Kathryn Green, 31 
Location: Enid, Oklahoma
Conviction: Six charges including child neglect and unlawful removal of a dead body.
Status: Sentencing pending

Green was arrested in 2017 after police found a stillborn fetus, which tested positive for meth, in a dumpster. After waiting more than five years for her case to go to trial, Green entered a plea in which she didn’t admit guilt but acknowledged prosecutors had enough evidence for a conviction.  

Adora Perez, 34
Location: Hanford, California 
Conviction: Manslaughter 
Status: Released from prison after serving four years

Perez pleaded no contest to manslaughter in 2018 and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. After national headlines about a similar case, a judge vacated her plea and dismissed a murder charge earlier this year. The state attorney general said such charges aren’t permissible under California’s fetal homicide law. 

Emily Akers, 25
Location: Lawton, Oklahoma
Charge: First-degree manslaughter, child neglect 
Status: Sentenced to 10 years, balance can be suspended upon completion of a prison drug-treatment program 

An off-duty detective working as a hospital security guard reported Akers to police after hearing that a woman high on meth delivered a stillborn baby. An appeals court ruled in 2020 that she could face charges of child neglect. Akers pleaded guilty Aug. 31. 

Cherie Mason, 44
Location: Sulphur, Oklahoma
Conviction: Manslaughter
Status: Serving 12 years

Originally charged with murder, Mason delivered a 36-week stillborn fetus and tested positive for meth. When she posted a photo of her daughter’s grave on Facebook, strangers wrote hate-filled comments, a reaction that influenced her to plead guilty rather than risk a trial.

Brittney Poolaw, 22
Location: Lawton, Oklahoma
Conviction: First-degree manslaughter
Status: Serving four years

A member of the Wichita tribe Poolaw was 19 years old when she had a miscarriage in 2020. A medical examiner testified that he couldn’t be sure drugs had caused the miscarriage, but a jury found her guilty. Lawyers said she declined to appeal for fear of getting a longer sentence.  

Ashley Traister,34
Location: Lawton, Oklahoma
Conviction: Felony child neglect
Status: On probation

Traister still faces a potential manslaughter charge in the death of her stillborn son in 2019. His remains are buried in Oklahoma, but there’s no marker on his grave. “I didn’t have the money,” said Traister, who was once homeless but now lives with relatives and works at a hotel laundry.