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In the Name of the Children : Get Treatment or Go to Jail, One South Carolina Hospital Tells Drug-Abusing Pregnant Women. Now It Faces a Lawsuit and a Civil-Rights Investigation.

August 07, 1994|Barry Siegel | Times national correspondent Barry Siegel's last piece for this magazine was on a Georgia doctor accused of murdering an infant

"First, be cognizant that it takes taxpayer money to pay for these programs," he advised. "That's the real world. So they must meet harsh tests: Are they necessary? Bare bones? You're handing out free food, shelter, access to better medical plans than we have. I'm not at all against these programs, but you can't get resources for them; there's not great support in this country for them. That's the real world, just like there's not enough political will to move after pregnant women who use alcohol or cigarettes. There is, though, a political basis for this interagency program. Leaders can take a position against crack. Our legal system reflects our cultural mores. That's our system. That's the real world. . . ."

Condon stopped in mid-sentence, at the moment he reached the television cameras waiting at the courthouse steps. Instantly, he turned from his companion and hit his cue.

"The left-wing ACLU doesn't represent the American people," he began, leaning into the microphone. "The left-wing ACLU doesn't represent the people of South Carolina. MUSC deserves an award. If the plaintiff prevails, in effect we'd be legalizing the use of crack cocaine during pregnancy. . . ." Staring into the camera, Condon posed the enduring question that so grips Charleston: "Who is speaking for the babies in this courtroom?" he asked. "Who is speaking for the babies?"

Then Condon turned back to his private conversation. "Tell Lynn thanks for suing me," he smiled, as he walked into the courthouse. "Running in South Carolina for attorney general, the best thing you can have happen is to be sued by the ACLU."

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