NAPW Open Letter to Oklahoma DA opposing targeted prosecutions of pregnant people


Oklahoma District Attorney Craig Ladd publicly announced [in December 2017] that he is calling for the increased prosecution of women who are pregnant and alleged to have used controlled substances, despite his knowledge that such prosecutions are not legally supported. During his public statement he indicated that 10 women had already been prosecuted throughout his district which includes Carter, Love, Murray, Marshall and Johnston counties, for alleged substance use during pregnancy. Given his open disregard for the law and lack of concern for pregnant women, we are confident there will be more prosecutions.

On September 14, 2018, with the support of 42 signatories including local and national legal advocates, medical organizations, experts in reproductive health and gender equality and other Oklahoma residents, National Advocates for Pregnant Women submitted an open letter to D.A. Ladd to explain the danger in his policies and targeted prosecutions. We delivered the letter to each of his offices as well as the office of State Attorney General Mike Hunter, and Gov. Mary Fallin.

Targeting pregnant women and prosecuting them for drug use harms maternal, fetal and child health. Drug use is not the same as drug addiction, and the assumption that the use of any amount of any substance during pregnancy hurts the baby is not supported by science. When someone does indeed have a drug addiction, charging pregnant women with crime is exactly the opposite of the public health approach that government should use instead when addressing substance use disorders.