A San Francisco judge has dismissed murder charges against a woman who suffered a stillbirth nearly two years ago after using methamphetamine. Chelsea Becker delivered the stillborn baby in September 2019, and the coroner ultimately determined the fetus died from toxic levels of meth in its system, deeming it a homicide. The woman’s lawyer argued that the coroner did not review her medical history, which included three conditions that could have contributed to the death. Judge Robert Shane Burns ruled Thursday that prosecutors did not have enough evidence proving that Becker took the drug knowing it would kill her child.
Although the court ruled in Becker’s favor, advocates expressed disappointment in the state’s homicide law, which has ambiguous rules for fetuses. “We are disappointed that a dismissal on these grounds does not foreclose the possibility that a misguided prosecutor may attempt a similar prosecution in the future,” said Jacqueline Goodman, a trial counsel for Becker. “As a result, we are left to play a sort of whack-a-mole, ever vigilant that we find and prevent any similar efforts to charge a woman with murder for the outcome of her pregnancy.”