- Criminal Prosecutions Against Pregnant Women: National Update and Overview (1992)
This documents the cases of an estimated 167 women who have been arrested
on criminal charges because of their behavior during pregnancy or because
they became pregnant while addicted to drugs. The cases are from twenty-four
states. A disproportionate number of these cases come from just two
states, Florida and South Carolina, and are concentrated in two counties in each
of those states. This article is posted here with the permission of the
American Civil Liberties Union.
- Governmental Response to Pregnant Women Who Use Alcohol or Other Drugs (PDF, 730 Kbytes)
- This Overview surveys civil and criminal laws directly addressing pregnant women's use of alcohol and other
drugs. It reveals a patchwork of policies, some oriented toward treatment, some purportedly focused on child protection,
some frankly punitive.
- Our Common Struggle
The first person I saw when I arrived at the Second National Harm Reduction Conference in Cleveland, Ohio last October was the Reverend Howard Moody. Reverend Moody is a great hero of mine, and not only because of his current work organizing clergy to speak out against the drug war. As a reproductive rights litigator, I came to learn of his very critical and radical work to help legalize abortion. When abortion was illegal in this country -- and to say free abortion on demand was as radical as it is to say today "free drug treatment on demand" -- Rev. Howard Moody and Arlene Carmen organized the Clergy Consultation Service.
- Perspective of a Reproductive Rights Attorney
- For some women in America, pregnancy is a crime. Women with addiction problems may be subject to a new array of punitive
interventions by the government simply because they become pregnant. Prosecutors, acting like lawmakers, are prosecuting pregnant
women under criminal laws never intended to apply to them. Similarly, child welfare advocates are promoting unfounded interpretations of civil child abuse and neglect laws to permit the removal of hundreds of children from their mothers, not because of evidence that the mothers will not properly care for their children, but rather because a single drug test indicates that the women used drugs once during pregnancy.
- Punishing Women for Their Behavior During Pregnancy: An Approach That Undermines the Health of Women and Children (PDF, 164 Kbytes)
- For more than a decade, law enforcement personnel, judges, and elected officials nationwide have sought to punish women for their actions during pregnancy that may affect the fetuses they are carrying (Gallagher 1987). Women who are having children despite substance abuse problems have been a particular target, finding themselves pros- ecuted for such nonexistent crimes as ≥fetal abuse≤ and delivery of drugs through the umbilical cord. In addition, pregnant women are being civilly committed or jailed, and new mothers are losing custody of their children even when they would be capable parents. Meanwhile, State legislators have repeatedly introduced substance abuse and child welfare proposals that would penalize only pregnant women with addiction problems.
- Punishment and Prejudice: Judging Drug-Using Pregnant Women
- Throughout the late 1980's and still today, "crack moms" and "crack babies"
are the subject of vigorous public debate. Much of this public discussion has been
governed by speculation and medical misinformation reported as fact in both medical
journals and in the popular press and has been extremely judgmental and punitive in
- The Rights of Pregnant Patients: Carder Case Brings Bold Policy Initiatives
- When George Washington University Medical Center ("GWUMC") developed and adopted groundbreaking
policies concerning the rights of pregnant patients to make health care decisions without court intervention, it not only
reversed its position on the appropriateness of court-ordered medical care,' but resolved three years of daunting
litigation against it for having subjected 27-year-old Angela Carder to a life threatening court-ordered Caesarean
section in June 1987
- SCAPW Response to The Unborn Victims of Violence Act
- The New York Times editorialized that the Unborn Victims of Violence Act is on "a dangerous path
to fetal rights" that could send "the nation down a legal path that could undermine the privacy
rights of women." South Carolina's experience proves this to be true.
- Treatment, not Sterilization, is the Way to Help Addicted Moms
- Just as government data give us welcome news that crack use is on the decline,
C.R.A.C.K., a private program that offers addicts $200 to use long-acting birth control or
to get sterilized is attracting national support. While it is true that the financial incentive
is modest; the numbers accepting the offer still relatively few (fewer than 400) and that at least
some of the women express genuine appreciation for the program, there is cause for grave concern
about this initiative because it promotes prejudice and perpetuates myths.
- Search and Seizure in the Delivery Room
- US SC: PUB LTE: Drug Offenders (Sat, 09 Aug 2003)
- US SC: PUB LTE: Drug Treatment (Sat, 09 Nov 2002)
- US SC: PUB LTE: After-School Activities Help Troubled Teens (Wed, 17 Jul 2002)
- US: Web: OPED: Drug-Terror Ads and Kids Don't Mix (Mon, 15 Apr 2002)
- US SC: PUB LTE: Help For Addicted (Tue, 19 Mar 2002)
- US NY: PUB LTE: Teenagers And Drugs (Thu, 22 Feb 2001)
- US SC: PUB LTE: Treatment Programs Best Way To Fight Drugs (Mon, 26 Jun 2000)
- US SC: PUB LTE: Slippery Slope? (Tue, 11 Apr 2000)
- US TX: OPED: Treatment, Not Sterilization, Is The Way To Help (Sun, 30 Jan 2000)
- US SC: PUB LTE: Treat, Not Punish (Sat, 27 Mar 1999)
- US: PUB LTE: Methadone In Pregnancy (Thu, 07 Jan 1999)