New on Babble: Sending Mom To Jail For Doing Drugs While Pregnant?

Did you all see the piece in the New York Time Magazine yesterday about women being prosecuted for “chemical endangerment” of a child after their newborns tested positive for drugs? This is a real thing that’s happening in Alabama. Apparently, Alabama has laws on the books to protect kids from living in an environment that contains meth labs – which is a GOOD idea because kids and meth labs should never be in the same place ever, ever, ever – but the definition of “child” has been expanded to include “unborn child” and  “environment” has been expanded to include the womb.

I wrote a bit about my conflicted feelings about protecting babies from meth versus a state going all Big Brother on pregnant women at Babble today:

And how does this link in with the growing fetal-personhood movement? Do laws that protect the unborn ultimately detract from the rights of the born? In this case, the mother doesn’t truly have the right to engage in the behavior in question – i.e. illegal drugs – but what about other scenarios? Would a mother who works in agriculture be forced to quit her job if farm chemicals were seen as chemical endangerment while she was pregnant? What about a server in a bar that allows smoking? What about a lab technician or hospital worker who deals with hazardous substances?

Heck, what about the expectant mom who colors her hair, drinks too much coffee, or has some champagne at a wedding? At what point does the idea of “acceptable risk” in pregnancy get taken out of the hands of a woman and her physician and put in the hands of the state?

Most of you all reading here already know that I think the fetal personhood movement is scary-ass shit that could result in a Handmaid’s Tale nation where pregnant women are sequestered in camps where all decisions are made for them for “the good of the baby”.  (I wrote about it at length last summer if you want a recap of my thoughts.) So, I’m not feeling any warm fuzzies when the Times tells me that Personhood USA is loving this Alabama statute. If they think it’s a good idea, I tend to think it’s not great for women in the long term.

As I say on Babble, I think we should be looking at WHY so many people in Alabama are using, making and selling meth and solve those problems. Sure, I don’t want women doing meth while pregnant but I don’t what them doing meth or blowing themselves up with meth labs while they;re not pregnant either. Maybe a little focus on education, social supports, and job creation would be just as good for babies as standing guard over pregnant women to make sure they toe the line, hmmmm?


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4 comments for “New on Babble: Sending Mom To Jail For Doing Drugs While Pregnant?

  1. Amy
    May 1, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I agree with you wholeheartedly on figuring out why so many people in Alabama are using, making, selling meth. I’m from Alabama and people joke that my home town should be renamed “Methlin”. My cousin has pretty much finally kicked her meth addiction, but only after the state took her children away from her multiple times. Despite her drug use, she continued to keep her children well fed, clean, clothed, and in school. I’m glad that she got the wake-up call that she needed, but I still don’t necessarily know that the state should have taken her kids from her. She was harming herself, not her kids.

    Yes, drug use is bad, but how soon will mothers-to-be not even be able to go out in public for fear of getting some second hand smoke inhalation?

  2. May 1, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Hmmm. Good points. I think I need to read the Handmaid’s Tale – I don’t believe that I have.

  3. May 7, 2012 at 11:11 am

    I agree with you here on several points. I am conflicted, though, seeing as how a Meth lab exposure for an unborn child is beyond drinking 40 cups of coffee a day. Coffee is legal; meth is not. Cigarette smoke is really dangerous, and so is alcohol. But they’re both legal. Smoking in front of my child and blowing it directly into their faces is a bad call, for sure. But we are allowed to do it, as it’s a legal drug. But would someone be able to take my kids away from me for doing it? Possibly. Nowadays, you just never know what law will be changed or mangled so as to have the government in charge of yet another child.

    I had a point. I can’t remember. Need more of that legal coffee…

  4. Mike
    October 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Please read what the professionals are saying on this issue. By professionals, I am talking about the social workers who work in the DCFS agencies in this country. Drug and alcohol abuse is a major factor cases of neglect and abuse. When a child is born with these drugs in their system the agencies in most states, are required to remove the child from custody. It is considered prima facia evidence of abuse. As the parent of two fetal alcohol exposed children, and having fostered other children who were fetally (sp?) exposed to alcohol, cocaine and heroin. Are we to excuse it because she was disadvantaged? I can say that in my experience, this was a selfish act on the mother’s part which resulted in a life time of disability on their child. Us taxpayers all pay for the cost but the child pays the full price of not being smart enough, or good looking enough or pleasant enough all because he or she can’t be normal. To willfully put a child into such an environment as a meth lab is criminal. I am against unneeded government intrusion, but as we morph into a society of social safety nets, it will mean more intrusion on personal freedoms. (remember the movement to ban disposable diapers?) Again, I cherish our personal freedoms, but not the freedom to destroy a child’s future. Does a woman who puts her child in that environment truly care for the child in the way you or I would? Will they carry the burden of motherhood when times are tough and the sperm donor has disappeared? Can any law stop stupidity and selfishness?

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