Meth Addict Who Breastfed Newborn Should Be Charged With Murder


police carThere are times when a mom shouldn't breastfeed: if she is taking cancer chemotherapy agents; if she's got untreated tuberculosis; if she's undergoing radiation therapies (though nuclear types only require a temporary break). Also, if she is an alcoholic or drug addict.

Maggie Jean Wortmon of California was arrested and charged with child abuse, involuntary manslaughter, and second degree murder after she breastfed her 6-week-old son, Michael, while high on methamphetamine, which resulted in his death.

Contrary to popular belief, a mother does not need a great diet to breastfeed. In fact, you really don't even need that good of one. Just like with pregnancy, a poor diet is more likely to affect you badly because your body will leech nutrients out of you and give them to your baby; whether or not you replace those missing nutrients from YOUR body is the issue there. You're still going to make great milk for your baby whether you're chowing down on strawberry spinach salads or double Whoppers. But if you eat like crap, you'll feel like it, too. (Not eating or drinking enough can affect the amount of milk you make, though.)

In fact, a mom can even enjoy some alcohol now and then without it being a negative thing for her baby. The same does not go for methamphetamine, however. Not only should meth addicts not be breastfeeding, but they shouldn't even be parenting. The idea that a mother would not only do meth while caring for a newborn, but then would breastfeed her baby enough that the amount of meth in his little tiny system would kill him just infuriates me. It's that conscious disregard for her baby's health that earned her the second-degree murder charge, says a deputy district attorney:

I think that her conduct is, or was, so intentionally reckless that it rises to the level of implied malice. And I think that a mother who is breast-feeding using the quantity of methamphetamine she did, I think that rises to a second-degree murder charge.

Of course, Wortmon's lawyer disagrees (surprise!), saying she's an addict but not a killer: "This is an overcharge. It makes her out to be a terrible, horrible person who needs to be locked away for the rest of her life. And my client is not that person."

Sorry dude, I know it's your job to defend her, but you know what? She IS a terrible, horrible person. I've seen "parenting" done by a meth addict with a 3-year-old before, and while there was no outright abuse, there was some pretty effing stupid, dangerous crap that went on, which fortunately ended when a cop bust found the mom living in a motel and meth and needles in a backpack next to crayons and coloring books. Classy.

But a newborn, really? Either Wortmon was already doing meth while pregnant or decided to hop back on board the second the baby was born, and, frankly, should have probably put the baby up for adoption. High or not, it doesn't excuse her from making such horrible choices that resulted in her baby's death a mere month and a half after his birth.

Do you think she should be charged with murder?


Image via Mark Coggins/Flickr

breastfeeding, newborns, in the news, death


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Lilbe... Lilbeamercomin

If not murder, definitely a manslauter charge at the very least. I base it off this. Most people, and probably nearly all meth addicts *know* (at least to an extent) how extremely dangerous the drug (read: array of caustic chemicals) is for the body. Furthermore, any mother who breastfeeds knows how what goes into your body effects your milk. There is no way she should be allowed to plead ignorant here and get off. She made a concious decision to continue using a drug while breastfeeding which she had to have known was going to do harm to her child.

hotic... hoticedcoffee

Her actions killed her child.  Of course she should be charged with murder.

zandh... zandhmom2

Yes! No excuse what so ever.  This is definitely a good reason to either adopt out the child, have another family oversee care or atleast bottle feed. 

Lizzi Hollanders

I honestly wish it was that easy to be judge and jury and throw away the key. However, as a person who has worked with drug addicts and drug addicted mothers, addiction is truly incomprehensible for people to understand who have no experience with it.

I agree, this woman is responsible for her child's death, but the addiction is also responsible and the consequences must be paid but tempered with the reality of what addiction has done to her. It is a difficult and ethical minefield to navigate as it touches on our deepest feelings of wanting to protect the vulnerable, our disgust with the death of any child, our own fears and the incredible difficulty we have in generating compassion for women, especially mother's when they screw up... a set of perceptions and feelings we rarely experience toward men or more vague concepts like the state, the government, warfare, poverty, disenfranchisement...etc.

My own heart feels complete disgust with this woman and her behaviour, but I also know having worked with mothers who are addicts and trying to raise their children that it's not that simple, that my gut response although valid, is biased.

Lizzi Hollanders

charging her with murder is not any kind of solution and simply satisfies our own basest instincts and desires for revenge and retaliation. A series of failures occurred far before this child was born, and the state bears part of the responsibility for not identifying this mother as an addict and getting that baby out of her care while she cleaned up, and if she could not clean up then to find a home for the child. I think it is so easy to rush to judgment, but I suggest people reflect a little on what our basic response of "burn the witch" looks like, where it leads, it's misogynism, it's being based in hatred not healing - how a barbaric response does not heal a barbaric death.

Our feelings of disgust and pain over this loss are not to be ignored, however they are also not a call to action or reaction. I suggest we all take a moment to reflect on how hard life is for some people, that we all fail at moments in our lives and we are lucky that our failures have not killed our children, and that addiction can happen to anyone. Take a moment to be thankful that you do not suffer with an addiction and do not know the living hell of it, the living hell of meth is beyond conception to those who have not seen it. Be thankful you did not fall into that bottemless pit of despair.

RanaA... RanaAurora

Lizzi, while I didn't include it because I didn't feel it was necessary, I myself was a meth addict over a decade ago, for a short period of time. I do understand how addiction works.

Lizzi Hollanders

@RanaAurora: congratulations on having recovered from your addiction, it must have been a difficult journey for you. however, feeling that your addiction is irrelevant suggests to me there is likely a lot of shame still ossified into that perception of your life, and it gets triggered by other addicts and their terrible mistakes. I empathise with how it feels for you to read a story like this, perhaps you feel "there but for the grace of god go I". Your addiction was/is an illness, feeling shame about addiction does little to heal the roots, and the ground into which it planted itself. Most today understand that addiction is rooted in trauma, and if the trauma is not healed, then the addiction festers for life. i suggest rather than advocated further traumatising the traumatised, we look deeper toward healing, toward creating a world wherein addiction no longer takes hold, where we do not punish people for being in pain. I sincerely hope your journey in recovery continues to be one that is positive and gives your strength. and perhaps in time you might see having had an addiction is a source of strength for you rather than something you feel is not worth mentioning.

Cathy Cunningham

Wow, I appreciate your perspective Lizzi. I had not thought of it in that way. You are right, addiction is the monster here. However, I still believe this woman must be punished for there to be any justice, and her punishment must include quality treatment for the addiction, for the sake of us all. An innocent baby's life was taken because of her actions. 


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