Thursday, September 24, 2015

When the Womb is a Crime Scene with ProPublica: Alabama Leads Nation in Turning Pregnant Women into Felons, by Nina Martin:

This is a comprehensive analysis of Alabama's "chemical endangerment of a child" law, the country's toughest criminal law banning prenatal drug use. In recent years, Alabama authorities have been aggressive about removing newborns from the custody of mothers who abuse drugs,typically placing a baby with a relative or foster family under a safety plan that can continue for months or years.

The law was passed during Alabama's war on methamphetamine and specifically "targeted parents who turned their kitchens and garages into home-based drug labs, putting their children at peril."  But now prosecutors and courts are turning the law on women who used controlled substances while pregnant, "even if [the] baby is born perfectly healthy, even if [the mother's] goal was to protect her baby from greater harm. The penalties are exceptionally stiff: one to 10 years in prison if her baby suffers no ill effects, 10 to 20 years if her baby shows signs of exposure or harm and 10 to 99 years if her baby dies."

Fetal Rights | Permalink


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