NAPW

Medical, Public Health, and Public Advocacy Groups
Excerpted Statements

American Academy of Pediatrics:
"The public must be assured of nonpunitive access to comprehensive care which will meet the needs of the substance-abusing pregnant woman and her infant." Committee on Substance Abuse, Drug-Exposed Infants, 86 Pediatrics 639, 642 (Oct. 1990).


American Medical Association:
"Pregnant women will be likely to avoid seeking prenatal of other medical care for fear that their physicians’ knowledge of substance abuse or other potentially harmful behavior could result in a jail sentence rather than proper medical treatment." Board of Trustees Report, Legal Interventions During Pregnancy, 264 JAMA 2663, 2667 (1990).


American Nurses Association:
"ANA…. Opposes any legislation that focuses on the criminal punishment of the mothers of drug-exposed infants. ANA recognizes alcohol and other drug problems as treatable illnesses. The threat of criminal prosecution is counterproductive in that it prevents many women from seeking prenatal care and treatment for their alcohol and other drug problems." Task Force on Drugs and Alcohol Abuse/Addictions Position Statement (April 5, 1991).


American Society of Addiction Medicine:
"The imposition of criminal penalties solely because a person suffers from an illness is inappropriate and counterproductive. Criminal prosecution of chemically dependent women will have the overall result of deterring such women from seeking both prenatal care and chemical dependency treatment, thereby increasing, rather than preventing, harm to children and to society as a whole." Board of Directors, Public Policy Statement on Chemically Dependent Women and Pregnancy 47 (Sept. 25, 1989).


Association of Family and Conciliation Courts:
"Many poor parents, particularly single mothers, have been partially abandoned by our medical, legal and political system. These parents are more likely to consume alcohol and other drugs in a manner that creates an unacceptable risk of harm to their present and future children…. Our national failure to provide comprehensive, universal pre and post-natal care for women and their babies constitutes systemic child neglect… AFCC finds that… criminalization of maternal substance abuse is not the best interests of the child…" Maternal Substance Abuse Policy and Recommendations (May 9, 1992).


Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, US Department of Health and Human Services Consensus Panel on Pregnant, Substance-Using Women:
"The Consensus Panel strongly supports the view that the use of alcohol and other drugs by women during pregnancy is a public health issue, not a legal problem…. The panel does not support the criminal prosecution of pregnant, substance-using women. Futhermore, there is no evidence that punitive approaches work." Pregnant, Substance-Using Women, DHHS Pub No. (SMA) 93-1998 (1991).


Center for the Future of Children:
"A woman who uses illegal drugs during pregnancy should not be subject to special criminal prosecution on basis of allegations that her illegal drug use harms the fetus. Nor should states adopt special civil commitment provisions for pregnant women who use drugs." Recommendations 1 The Future of Children 8, 9 (1991).


Coalition on Alcohol and Drug Dependent Women and Their Children:
"[T]he interests of women and their children are best served through the health care and social services. Women should not be singled out for punitive measures based solely on their use of alcohol and other drugs during pregnancy." Coalition Statement of Purpose, (passed by Coalition Jan. 23, 1990).


The March of Dimes:
"The March of Dimes is concerned that legal action, which makes a pregnant woman criminally liable solely based on the use of drugs during pregnancy, is potentially harmful to the mother and her unborn children… [W]e call upon the American people to work together to support efforts that will… [m]ake available upon demand the comprehensive therapeutic interventions which meet the specific needs of the pregnant woman suffering from the disease of addiction." Statement on Maternal Substance Abuse (Dec. 1990).


National Association for Perinatal Addiction Research and Education:
"Criminalization of prenatal drug use "will deter women who use drugs during pregnancy from seeking the prenatal care which is important for the delivery of a healthy baby… The prospect of criminal prosecutions… also places health care practitioners in a conflict position, forcing them to choose between maintaining their patient’s confidentiality or reporting them, ultimately to the police, a position many doctors and nurses find intolerable… [these women] do not want or intend to hurt their unborn children by using drugs. But, they need help, not threats, to overcome their problems…. The key to intervention will be access to health care for high risk women, not threat of criminal prosecution." NAPARE Policy Statement No. 1, Criminalization of Prenatal Drug Use: Punitive Measures Will Be Counter-Productive (July 1990).


National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators:
"If a jurisdiction elects to mandate drug testing of pregnant women, such testing must be universal (i.e., testing would be conducted on all pregnant women an newborns at all medical facilities and not targeted at specific populations.) Test results should be used only to identify families in need of treatment and make referrals. Positive test results should not be used for punitive action." Guiding Principles For Working With Substance-Abusing Families and Drug-Exposed Children: The Child Welfare Response (Jan. 1991).


National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence:

"[A] punitive approach is fundmentally unfair to women suffering from addictive diseases and serves to drive them away from seeking both prenatal care and treatment for their alcoholism and other drug addictions. It thus works against the best interests of infants and children… Moreover, there is increasing evidence of disparities regarding the screening and reporting of positive toxicologies of newborns, with women of color, poor women and women receiving care in public hospitals having the greatest likelihood of being subject to drug testing and subsequent reporting to legal authorities." Policy Statement, Women, Alcohol, Other Drugs and Pregnancy (1990).


Southern Legislative Summit on Healthy Infants and Families:
"[S]tates should adopt, as preferred methods, prevention, intervention, and treatment alternatives rather than punitive actions to ameliorate the problems related to perinatal exposure to drugs and alcohol." Policy Statement, High Risk Pregnancies/Substance Abuse (Oct. 1990).


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