Amnesty International Publishes Criminalizing Pregnancy: Policing Pregnant Women Who Use Drugs in the USA

Report features National Advocates for Pregnant Women's work to secure the human and civil rights, health and welfare of pregnant and parenting women

Over the course of three years, Amnesty International analyzed US criminal prosecutions of women who are pregnant and alleged to use drugs. These cases are based on claims of promoting maternal and infant health, but in fact are about arresting and punishing women who are pregnant and use drugs. These "pregnancy criminalization" prosecutions violate women's human rights.

National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) is actively involved in ongoing court challenges to punitive reproductive health and drug policies and provides litigation support in cases across the country. NAPW assisted or served as co-counsel on many of the court cases highlighted in the report. Over a three year process, NAPW worked closely with Amnesty International to help inform and shape the report.

"Criminalizing Pregnancy: Policing Pregnant Women Who Use Drugs in the USA, is a clear overview of some of NAPW's key work," says Lynn M. Paltrow, Executive Director, NAPW. "As quoted in the report, these laws take away from a pregnant woman virtually every right associated with constitutional personhood, from the most basic right to physical liberty to the right to refuse bad medical advice." She continues: "NAPW appreciates this vital report concluding that the US is in violation of international legal obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of pregnant women. NAPW will continue to fight to secure the human and civil rights of all people who have the capacity to become pregnant."

This important Amnesty International report is consistent with NAPW's Women's Declaration calling for the end of punitive policies that violate the rights of women, children, and families. NAPW drafted the Declaration and coordinated more than 145 national and international organizations from every inhabited continent to sign on, in conjunction with the April 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drug policies.

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