Lawyering Up Before Birth

English: Pregnant woman at a WIC clinic in Vir...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oklahoma and South Dakota, there are laws in place that allow authorities to detain pregnant women for substance abuse. The Wisconsin fetal protection law, which was passed in 1998, allows child-welfare authorities to forcibly confine a pregnant woman who uses illegal drugs or alcohol – and who refuses to accept treatment – “to a severe degree.”  Proponents of the law say that it is intended to protect mothers and babies.  The first federal challenge of this law was filed this month.  What could be wrong with this well-meaning law?

While this type of law is only enforced in 4 states, other states use civil-confinement, child-protection or assorted criminal laws to force women into treatment programs and punish them for taking drugs.  Clearly this law is supported by anti-abortion groups as it extends personhood and rights to the unborn fetus.

What are your thoughts on how this law, and issue of maternal substance abuse, could be better addressed?  Share in the comments below.



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Andrea Perri

I came to Campaign Consultation with a strong background in social work and community organizing. I am also a former Peace Corps health volunteer who served in The Gambia working on maternal and child health care projects.In my role as Project Specialist, I assist with project research, content development and other support for the Social Innovation Fund, George Washington University Freshman Day of Service and other projects.Read more.

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