Substance Abuse in Pregnant Women Essay

Substance Abuse in Pregnant Women Essay

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“Crack-babies” a media induced phenomena brought about by the climax of public outcry from the results of the 1980’s war on drugs. This term laid the foundation for biased prosecutions which sparked a political crusade during climate of the time. Thus exploiting the public’s fear of children born to substance addicted mother and creating a firestorm of litigation to prosecute pregnant drug addicts. According to Flavin, Paltrow (2010), current evidence points to public stigmas and prejudice as posing a greater danger to both maternal and fetal health than use of the drug itself. Leaving the question as to why addicted women are still publicly reviled for the outcomes of their circumstances. From this abhorrence stems the likelihood that these women would be deterred from seeking prenatal care than to seek help for their addiction; expelling an even greater issue as the concern of health care is then added to the mix. The complex social issues then must be taken into consideration to underscore the need for policymakers to allow for the legal and medical systems to better create programs for these women and allot for rehabilitation instead of punitive solutions.

During the late 1970’s a movement began with state prosecutors using child abuse, endangerment statues and charges of provisions of drugs to a minor to prosecute pregnant women who used illicit substances during their pregnancies. The prosecution of a pregnant heroine user in the State of California with a felony child endangerment charge was one of the first of such prosecutions in 1977 (Stone-Manista, 2009, pp.823-856). This was the catalyst for the often biased punishment of pregnant drug addicts under the scope of the law. It is this vein of prosecution that struck ...


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...ses, 29(2), 231-244. doi:10.1080/10550881003684830

Harris, L. H., & Paltrow, L. (2003). The Status of Pregnant Women and
Fetuses in US Criminal Law. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical
Association, 289(13), 1697. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Lambert, B., Scheiner, M., & Campbell, D. (2010). Ethical Issues and
Addiction. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 29(2), 164-174.
doi:10.1080/10550881003684673

STONE-MANISTA, K. (2009). PROTECTING PREGNANT WOMEN: A GUIDE TO SUCCESSFULLY CHALLENGING CRIMINAL CHILD ABUSE PROSECUTIONS OF PREGNANT DRUG ADDICTS. Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 99(3), 823-856. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Terplan, M., Garrett, J., & Hartmann, K. (2009). Gestational Age at
Enrollment and Continued Substance Use Among Pregnant Women in Drug
Treatment. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 28(2), 103-112.
doi:10.1080/10550880902772399

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