Punishing Women for Their Behavior During Pregnancy: An Approach That Undermines the Health of Women and Children

Punishing Women for Their Behavior During Pregnancy: An Approach That Undermines the Health of Women and Children
January 13, 2006

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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 3fetal abuse2 and delivery of drugs through the umbilical cord.

Top Medical Doctors and Scientists Urge Major Media Outlets to Stop Perpetuating “Crack Baby” Myth

February 25, 2004
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PRESS RELEASE
Signatories from Leading Hospitals and Research Institutes in US and Canada Agree That Term Lacks Scientific Basis and Is Dangerous to Children

Letter Sent to Washington Post, Arizona Republic, LA Weekly, Charleston Post and Courier, Amarillo Globe-News and Other Media Using These Terms

CRIMINALIZING MOTHERHOOD

December 11, 2003
By: Silja J.A. Talvi, The Nation magazine, December 11, 2003

Regina McKnight is doing twelve years in prison for a stillbirth, carving out a dangerous intersection between the drug war and the antichoice movement. In the eyes of the South Carolina Attorney General's office, McKnight committed murder.

Petition Filed Today Seeking U.S. Supreme Court Review of Unprecedented South Carolina Decision Treating a Woman Who Suffered A Stillbirth as a Murderer

May 27, 2003
MEDIA ADVISORY Contact: 917-921-7421
FOR TUESDAY, May 27th, 2003

On May 27, 2003 counsel for Regina McKnight filed a petition with U.S. Court Supreme Court requesting review of a South Carolina Supreme Court decision that effectively rewrote the state's homicide by child abuse law to permit prosecution and conviction of pregnant women who experience stillbirths.

TREATMENT PROGRAMS BEST WAY TO FIGHT DRUGS

June 26, 2000

By: Wyndi Anderson, The State (SC), June 26, 2000

I read with concern your editorial, "Limits during pregnancy should be defined in law" ( May 23 ). While much of what is stated is true, the conclusion, "The idea of declaring certain activities during pregnancy to be illegal is a sound one," flies in the face of every leading medical group to address the issues of pregnancy and addiction.

Punishment and Prejudice: Judging Drug-Using Pregnant Women

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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 many instances.

Pregnant Drug Users, Fetal Persons and the Threat to Roe v. Wade

January 13, 1999

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By: Lynn Paltrow, 62 Albany Law Review 999 (1999)

Roe v. Wade marked only the beginning of the struggle for reproductive justice for all women. Many women fall outside of its "core" protections. Among these are drug addicted pregnant women.

Criminal Prosecutions Against Pregnant Women: National Update and Overview

January 31, 1992

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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.