Will the Truth Prevail? All Pregnant Women Are At Risk
NAPW's work on behalf of all pregnant women is getting extraordinary attention. Journalist Nina Martin has just published the first article in a series: "This Alabama Judge Has Figured Out How to Dismantle Roe v. Wade: His writings fuel the biggest threat to abortion rights in a generation." This investigative piece, reporting on some of the more than 135 prosecutions of pregnant Alabama women that NAPW has documented, appears in ProPublica and in The New Republic. In this story Martin makes clear what NAPW has long known - that the Alabama Supreme Court's decision upholding prosecutions of pregnant drug-using women is part of a long term strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade and recriminalize abortion. Thankfully the story also features some of NAPW's long term strategy to challenge the Alabama policy that is already depriving women of their civil and human rights.
As a result of NAPW's collaborative work, the media is also now reporting the fact that so-called "personhood" measures would have the effect of recriminalizing abortion and depriving women of their personhood. As our RH Reality Check commentary co-authored with Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) explains, if people want to "Keep Mothers Out of Jail - they must Vote 'No' on Colorado's 'Personhood' Measure." NAPW and COLOR's joint fact sheet explains that Amendment 67's passage would not "protect pregnant mothers and their unborn children" as proponents claim, but rather will subject pregnant women and new mothers to arrest and prosecution. Our message is being reported by both national and state-based media, including the Colorado Springs Independent, "Personhood by any other name Amendment 67 would make the unborn 'persons,' which could lead to bizarre consequences," and Colorado Public Radio, "Colorado's 'personhood' Amendment 67 more ambiguous than partisans say."
NAPW's efforts to ensure that no part of our government is used to deprive pregnant women of their civil or human rights are also getting important coverage. This summer we learned that a US Attorney in Tennessee won an enhanced sentence (six additional years in prison) for Lacey Weld because she was pregnant when she committed a crime. NAPW challenged this action in a recent letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, calling on the Department of Justice to renounce this position as contrary to rational and just sentencing policies as well as the rights and health of pregnant women, children, and families. In an important show of force and solidarity, 48 Reproductive Justice, drug policy reform, civil liberties, and women's rights organizations joined this letter, which has received significant media attention, including coverage in Slate, VICE, and RH Reality Check. As the letter explains, becoming pregnant and either continuing or terminating a pregnancy is a fundamental right for which no person should be subject to punishment directly or through enhanced penalties. (Next month, NAPW will file an amicus (friend of the court) brief in support of Ms. Weld's appeal).
Finally, NAPW knows that we have to do more than litigate - we must also educate. That is why we hope that you will share widely NAPW staff Kylee Sunderlin and Laura Huss's article "The Mythology of 'Addicted Babies': Challenging Media Distortions, Laws, and Policies that Fracture Communities." This article beautifully explains how decades of pernicious and distorted narratives about drug use during pregnancy have led to policies that hurt all pregnant women and undermine families.