Abortion, Drugs, & Class: NAPW in the News

This holiday season has been anything but quiet in terms of news about pregnant women and NAPW's advocacy on their behalf.

National Advocates for Pregnant Women does not shy away from hard cases or the real lives of pregnant women. This week's cover story for The New Republic, "The Rise of Do-It-Yourself Abortions," discusses the Jennie McCormack case in Idaho and NAPW's work on behalf of all pregnant women. Ms. McCormack was unable to access abortion services in Southern Idaho, but found a way to have an abortion and was then arrested for doing so. This thoughtful piece by journalist Ada Calhoun highlights NAPW's willingness to advocate on behalf of Ms. McCormack and discusses her recent victory in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The story also relies upon NAPW's data, soon to be published as an article this January in the peer-reviewed Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law entitled: "Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973-2005: Implications for Women's Legal Status and Public Health."

This New Republic story discusses barriers to abortion, including everything from new state law restrictions to the 1976 Hyde Amendment that banned most types of federal abortion funding. It also reveals what life is like for too many low-income pregnant women and mothers in America today - one filled with barriers to health care and the economic struggle to support their families through low paying jobs with no benefits and no security.

Today's New York Daily News story, "WEED OUT: More than a dozen city maternity wards regularly test new moms for marijuana and other drugs," also focuses on low-income mothers who become targets for nonconsensual drug testing. This testing too often results in highly intrusive and extremely counterproductive civil child welfare interventions. The story explains that:

"Private hospitals in rich neighborhoods rarely test new mothers for drugs, whereas hospitals serving primarily low-income moms make those tests routine and sometimes mandatory. "It's absolutely discriminatory," said Lynn Paltrow of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. "This all comes out of the same history of racism, the drug war, misinformation."

This piece brings to light a major aspect of the war on drugs that receives very little attention - its role in the child welfare system and its use in undermining the health and well being of low-income pregnant women, mothers, and their families. This is a breakthrough story in many ways, including its reliance on expert affidavits. One notable expert, Carl Hart, PhD, who is quoted in the story states, "All the scientific research," leads to the conclusion "that recreational use of marijuana does not undermine responsible parenting."

As a result of this story, NAPW's Executive Director Lynn Paltrow was interviewed and will appear tonight on television at 5:00 p.m. EST, Wednesday, December 26, 2012, on WPIX 11.

NAPW does not believe that one's civil and human rights should be determined by pregnancy, race, class, or the myths perpetuated by the war on drugs.

Please use this Holiday time to make a donation to NAPW to help us continue our effective work on behalf of all pregnant women.