Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Put a bullet in her head...

Today's post comes courtesy of Facebook's "On this day" feature.  It seems that a couple of years ago,  I shared an article on Facebook about one Stephanie Greene, a woman from Spartanburg, South Carolina who killed her six week old daughter by breastfeeding her while abusing painkillers.  The article I shared is now gone from the Internet, but here's a link to a different story for those who are interested in reading about what happened.

Prior to her addiction to painkillers, Stephanie Greene had been a nurse.  Naturally, as a nurse, she would have been educated about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol while pregnant or nursing.  However, back in 1998, Greene was in a terrible car accident.  She became addicted to painkillers while recovering from the accident.  In November 2010, Greene had enough morphine in her system that she could have killed herself.  Greene's breast milk was loaded with the drug.  She fed her baby her breastmilk and the child died of an overdose.

I posted about her case two years ago because I thought the punishment Greene ultimately received, 20 years in prison, was a bit extreme.  One of my "friends"... a guy who remains a Facebook friend but we no longer follow each other... thought the sentence was certainly harsh enough.  In fact, he wrote this.

I disagree very much. What she did as an RN is inexcusable. I say a bullet in her head would be just fine.

It so happens my friend's wife is now in nursing school.  I also know for a fact that this friend has cheated for his wife because her first language isn't English.  He actually admitted it to me.  Although my friend's wife's spoken English is excellent, apparently she struggles with writing.  And so, this "friend" told me that he'd written a couple of papers for her.  I don't know if he continues to cheat for his wife, but I have to wonder what might happen if, years down the road, she messes up with a patient and accidentally kills them because she didn't get through school on her own merits.  Will my friend continue to have the same harsh attitude?  Will he think it's right for a bullet to be put through his wife's head?  Hmmm...

In any case, I did respond and here's what I said...

She still has other kids. Do you think they'd want to see their mother executed over this? I think that's a pretty heartless attitude. Yes, she's an addict, but she got hooked on drugs because of legitimate pain. Addiction is not a character flaw.

My friend continued...

no feeling sympathetic for a professional, addict, mother

But clearly he does feel "sympathy" for his wife and "helps" her by writing her papers instead of aiding her in developing her own academic skills.  Interesting, huh?  So I wrote this.

I hope no one close to you is ever addicted to anything. You could use an empathy check.

And this was his response...

she could have fed the baby formula, she is a nurse for petes sake

That is true.  She could and should have fed the baby formula at the very least.  It has nothing to do with her being a nurse, either.  Any mother with a lick of sense would have fed formula over breastfeeding if she was using drugs or alcohol.  Unfortunately, part of the reason being an addict is a bad thing is that it leads to not having good sense.  Moreover, while she hid her pregnancy from doctors and voluntarily took excessive amounts of painkillers, she was still able to legally get those drugs from supposedly licensed physicians who somehow missed that their patient was pregnant.  The point is, she certainly wasn't the only one responsible for the fact that the baby died.  It looks to me like several people have some culpability in this case, even if they weren't the ones who offered the breastmilk loaded with morphine.  So I wrote this.

Yes, she should have given the baby formula. Yes, she was a nurse. She lost her license in 2004 because she's an addict. How about her husband? Why didn't he insist on giving the baby formula? Did he not know his wife had a problem with painkillers for ten years? He could have done something to prevent this too, right? I'm not saying she was right and I don't think it's unreasonable for something to be done, but she has a legitimate illness. 20 years behind bars is not going to serve anyone… it won't serve society and it sure won't serve her other kids. She needs medical help.

And… if she was that fucked up on painkillers, I doubt she was thinking straight anyway… to consider that her baby would do better on formula. She should not have gotten pregnant in the first place. I would argue that that is also partly her husband's responsibility. Obviously, it was a longstanding problem, since the accident that got her addicted to painkillers was in 1998. But then, maybe he didn't know… I just think that this is a tragedy and allowing the state to kill the mom doesn't solve anything.

My friend had nothing more to say after I wrote a couple of book length Facebook posts.  Back in those days, I still had some respect for his feelings so I didn't ask him about his issues with selective ethics.  I'm sure he would have been pissed if I'd asked him how he'd feel if his wife, as a future nurse, made some mistakes that cost someone his or her life.  My friend also has two daughters.  What if they fuck up someday and end up in trouble with the law?  Will he still advocate putting a bullet in their heads if they screw up royally and end up accidentally killing someone?  

Another friend, one with a much more reasonable attitude, wrote this.

My issue is that she was of sound mind enough to hide her pregnancy from one doctor and get drug addiction from another. I have to believe she was aware that her pregnancy was not compatible with her pain medication. I agree that 20 years in prison is not the solution for her illness, but I also think she is somewhat culpable for her decisions.

And this was my response.

I don't disagree that she's culpable and should be held responsible. I take issue with the idea that we should put a bullet in her head because she's an addict. I don't know what the solution is… While I generally am not in favor of pee testing everyone, maybe that is what should be done with women of childbearing age who want certain painkillers. I dunno.

That was the end of the debate.  I have noticed my "bullet in head" friend, who generally enjoys instigating shit, has gotten even more extreme in his views lately.  He is vehemently against abortion, but voluntarily got sterilized when he was married to his first wife.  Then, when he remarried, he got his vasectomy reversed.  Now he has two more kids.  After the second one was born, he said he was thinking about having another vasectomy.  Why is it okay for him to have dominion over his reproductive powers but it's not okay for a woman?  My guess is that he's just a sexist ass.

Oh well.  He's a member of a very large club, isn't he?  ;-)


  1. He sounds like an ass, all right, sexist or otherwise.

    I'm curious as to just what the woman took and how much of it.

    1. She was abusing morphine. That's what ended up killing her baby.

      This particular friend of Bill's didn't make a good first impression on me. I later came to like him more. Now I think my initial impressions were dead on.


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