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September 28, 2015

Arguing in Arkansas, NAPW in the Media, & Last Chance to Register for the Tennessee Symposium

It's been busy at National Advocates for Pregnant Women - to say the least.

NAPW argues Arkansas appeal
Just last week, on Sept. 24, Senior Staff Attorney Farah Diaz-Tello argued an appeal on behalf of Melissa McCann-Arms before the Arkansas Supreme Court. Watch Farah in action. She explained why Arkansas' law making it a crime to introduce a controlled substance into the body of another person (for example, putting a "knock-out" drug in someone's drink, the initial intent of the law) can't be used to punish women who give birth to a baby who tests positive for a controlled substance. Ms. McCann-Arms was sentenced to 20 years in prison. We're fighting to ensure that the Arkansas court doesn't set a precedent that would make every criminal law that uses the word "person" applicable to the context of pregnancy. We're defending Ms. McCann-Arms because sending a woman to prison for 20 years for carrying a pregnancy to term despite a drug problem is unjust, cruel and will drive women away from medical care.

NAPW in the news
Next, major journalistic articles are showing that our long-term advocacy and education efforts are paying off. More than a year's worth of research and media outreach have resulted in the publication of an important journalistic article from ProPublica investigative reporter Nina Martin. NAPW shared many of the 180 cases that we found in which Alabama women were charged with "chemical endangerment of a child" for allegedly using a controlled substance while pregnant. With her own team of researchers, Martin found more than 300 additional cases and wrote "Take a Valium, lose your kid, go to jail," which reached more than 10,000 supporters and readers on Facebook. The piece is also accompanied by an AL.com editorial, Thanks to Nina and her team for amplifying the issues at the core of NAPW's work - and thanks to NAPW staff, especially Research & Program Associate Laura Huss, whose ongoing tracking of these cases in Alabama laid the groundwork for this article.

And take a look at this
hot-off-the-press piece from In These Times' Victoria Law, who meticulously documents what it's like to be pregnant in jail or prison: It often means little prenatal care, poor food and conditions, and neglect that can endanger both the life of mother and fetus.

Last call for Oct. 2-3 symposium in Tennessee
We're literally counting down the days to two events we are supporting or co-sponsoring in Tennessee this week: an Oct. 1 conference called "Pregnancy, Drug Use, and the Law in Tennessee: Creating Fair and Effective Public Policies," and a two-day symposium, "Pregnant Women, Drug Use, and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: Research & Policies that Support Mothers, Babies, and Families," Oct. 2-3 in Nashville, Tennessee. While the Oct. 1 event is full and has a wait list, you can still join NAPW and the National Perinatal Association (NPA) on Friday and Saturday for panels with experts in medicine, law, ethics, advocacy and drug treatment and more. Cost is $125. Register online for the joint NAPW/NPA symposium until 10 p.m. on Thursday. Any questions? Email us at conferences@advocatesforpregnantwomen.org.

September 8, 2015

Two Important Dates from NAPW - Please Join Us!

On Sept. 8 the NY Court of Appeals (NY's highest court) will be hearing oral argument in the Jorgensen case. This New York case threatens to set a judicial precedent that would make pregnant women in New York State criminally liable for the outcomes of their pregnancies. As you may recall, NAPW filed an amicus brief in support of Ms. Jorgensen and on behalf of more than 30 organizations and experts, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. We invite you to watch the oral argument with us and follow NAPW's live tweeting at #EyesonNY. The argument is anticipated to begin around 3:15 pm EST and information about how to watch the live stream is available here on the NY Court of Appeals website.

We hope you will also join us on Oct. 2-3 in Nashville, Tennessee for the symposium, Pregnancy, Drug Use, and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: Research and Policies that Support Mothers, Babies and Families. As we're sure you're aware, hardly a day goes by without media reports about rising opioid use. Those reports often focus on pregnant women and recycle alarmist claims about the impact of drug use on their babies. Moreover, such claims have been used in Tennessee as a basis for enacting a law that permits the arrest and punishment of pregnant women. Rarely do policy makers, journalists, advocates, health care providers, and others have an opportunity to hear from experts on these subjects.

That's why National Advocates for Pregnant Women and the National Perinatal Association have partnered for this event. Our symposium brings together experts and thought leaders from diverse sectors -- medicine, public health, ethics and the law -- to share best practices and spark critical conversations. We'll be joined by an extraordinary group of speakers including Dr. Jessica Young, MD, Assistant Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Dr. Ron Abrahams, founding medical director of Families in Recovery rooming-in program in Vancouver; pioneering NAS researcher Dr. Loretta Finnegan; and Dr. Hendrée Jones, who runs Horizons, a North Carolina-based comprehensive treatment program for pregnant and parenting women and their children.

For a full schedule with speakers and registration, visit the symposium website. Registration for this two-day event is $125. This includes lunch on Oct. 2 and CME and CLE credits as described on the website. A limited number of travel and registration scholarships are available. Please complete this form if you're interested in a scholarship. For more information or with general questions you can email conferences@advocatesforpregnantwomen.com.

Our partners, Healthy & Free Tennessee and SisterReach, are also co-sponsoring a free pre-conference on pregnancy, drug use and the law on Oct. 1, that will focus on the law, local realities in Tennessee and how to create policies that respect human rights.

We urge you to attend both events -- or as much of both -- as you are able.

We hope to see you there!