On Aug. 12, 2012, a story appeared in print about a couple in Manchester (Clay County), who were arrested after taking their 11-month-old baby to the Manchester Memorial Hospital, claiming that the child had choked on a piece of meat.
To start with, most responsible parents know that 11-month-old children do not eat pieces of meat of a size sufficient to choke them.
Then, an alert local law enforcement officer, sniffed the baby’s breath and determined that the real reason for the child’s breathing dilemma was most likely the result of inhaling toxic chemicals used to process methamphetamines.
Similar stories are happening all over Kentucky, and at a much too frequent rate, because state laws are too lax to put a significant dent in the ability of individuals to manufacture meth in their home settings.
During the last legislative session, state lawmakers had the opportunity to enact a law which would have dramatically and negatively impacted the manufacture of meth in Kentucky similar to methods which have proven successful in other states.
But our vaunted legislators knuckled under to special interests, specifically those who produce cold remedies relying on pseudoephredine, a key ingredient for methamphetamine and emasculated the bill before passing it.
Forty-one states have laws controlling the distribution of products containing this ingredient and Oregon, which requires a prescription for such drugs, reduced the number of meth lab seizures from 467 in 2004 (the last full year before their legislation took effect ) to 12 seizures in 2009.
Maybe if some of those Kentucky legislators who wouldn’t go along with a tougher law would be required to actually observe the corpse of a dead child such as the one in Monticello who drank drain cleaner used to process meth, or to visit the hospital bed of the Manchester baby who was (at the time of the breaking story) having to rely on a ventilator to breathe, they might actually see the positive trade-off between requiring some adults to secure a prescription for cold medicine versus the cost of the life of a child.
As to the Manchester case, the father of the child had been indicted twice before, once as recently as July, for meth charges, and the mother had been co-indicted on one of the charges.
In addition, when the father was indicted in May he said he was unemployed, had no car and received $600 a month in food stamps. Both parents have also been charged with endangering two other children.
If these parents are found guilty as charged, the harshest punishment will be too lenient.
Of course, food stamps are the appropriate relief when children are involved, especially if one can hope that it is really the children who are benefitted by them.
But convicted felons, especially those charged with crimes endangering children, should never again be allowed to house or produce children, nor should they ever again be allowed to sup at the public trough.
Caring parents everywhere should be up in arms over the plethora of instances in which children are harmed by monsters who consider themselves parents.
The ire and anger of parents should be palpable; they should storm the halls of Frankfort and drown out the din of the drug manufacturers who care not one whit for the welfare of children as long as they can make a profit, and insist on a drug control law that has sufficient teeth to stop these in-home meth labs and the continuing harm to which children are being exposed.