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Authorities told this mum not to breastfeed. She did it anyway and now she's been charged with murder.

Sarah Stephens (photo via Sacremento Sheriff)
Sarah Stephens (photo via Sacramento Sheriff)

 

By BERN MORLEY

When is breast not best? When a baby dies as a result, that’s when…

In this tragic story where absolutely no one wins, California mother Sarah Stephens has been charged with the murder of her eight-month-old son, Ryder Salmen, after he died from a drug overdose. Ryder was found with high levels of morphine in his system after being breastfed by his 32-year-old mother. This still happened after she was expressly warned by health authorities to stop breastfeeding her son due to the danger and possible ramifications of her drug addiction.

Was this woman careless? Extremely. Was she negligent and neglectful? Most definitely. Did she plan to kill her baby? Doubtful. Does she deserve the charge of murder?

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Well, considering the definition of murder is ‘The unlawful premeditated killing of one human by another’ it really doesn’t seem to fit.

Social workers discovered high levels of drugs in the child’s blood after he was brought to the hospital for being “lethargic.” Stephens was warned that in order to keep custody of the child, she’d have to stop nursing.

But something fell through the cracks with this plan and it was never agreed upon by managers – and in the meantime, Stephens was still caring for the child.

Clearly, prosecutors feel that Stephens, regardless of her condition or dependency issues, was still able to make parental decisions or they would not have charged with a crime as hefty as murder.

Who’s to blame – authorities or the mother?

Based on the above, I doubt this poor lady was capable of planning her next meal, let alone premeditate the demise of her baby son. More to point, why wasn’t he removed from her custody when initially brought to into the hospital, lethargic and with dangerous levels of morphine in his system?

So many questions, not enough answers and what appears to be a massive problem with the Health Authority and their systems for flagging children in obvious danger.

This is so bloody tragic and I bet if you asked any social worker working in the public health system today, they would tell you it’s all too common.

This lady is an addict and before anybody casts judgement upon her, remember we are all only one unfortunate set of circumstances away from falling on terrible and tragic times ourselves. She deserves to be punished, clearly, but really, can anyone punish themselves harder than she will herself if and when she sobers up?

Do you believe she deserved to be charged with murder? Would the lesser charge of manslaughter have sufficed? Do you believe she is getting what she deserves? Or straight up, are the authorities to blame here?

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