NAPW: At the White House and In the Courts

September 07, 2012

National Advocates for Pregnant Women is committed to the principle that all women, including pregnant women, are human beings who must not be denied their constitutional and human rights, including their rights to equal protection of the law, to health care, and to have decisions about them based on science not stigma.

Listen on Monday, September 10, 2012, at 10:00 a.m., to hear oral arguments before the Supreme Court of New Jersey in New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) v. A.L.. This case challenges lower court decisions that radically expand the scope of the state's civil child neglect and abuse laws to apply to a pregnant woman in relation to the fetus she carries and sustains. Lawrence S. Lustberg, Esq. of Gibbons P.C., who, with National Advocates for Pregnant Women, represents a group of fifty national and international medical, public health, and child welfare organizations and experts will have the opportunity to argue that judicial decisions about pregnant women and families must be based on science, not presumption. It will be possible to watch the oral argument online at the New Jersey Supreme Court Webcast page.

We are also proud to report that last week Executive Director Lynn Paltrow was an invited presenter at the Leadership Meeting on Maternal Addiction, Opioid Exposed Infants and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome sponsored by the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy. This meeting was held in response to recent reports and a flood of media about prescription opiate use by pregnant women.

In her presentation (archived online), Pregnancy, Parenting, and Drug Use - What Does Science Have to do with it? Legal and Media Responses, Lynn drew connections between the media hysteria that drove the harmful myth that babies were irretrievably harmed by in-utero exposure to cocaine, and the media responses today to articles reporting an increased use of prescription opiates by pregnant women. She emphasized the need to understand the ways in which the combined war on women and war on drugs have resulted in responses to the issue of pregnant women and drug use that are primarily punitive and counterproductive to maternal, fetal, and child health.

She urged opposition to these measures and to barriers to treatment. She provided examples from NAPW cases and requests for help from women in successful methadone treatment and from methadone treatment providers who report that child welfare authorities and judges are punishing women for obtaining the treatment urged by our own federal government. We are pleased that stories like Medical Consensus or Child Abuse? Moms on Methadone Caught in the Middle, featuring Legal Director Emma Ketteringham, are bringing attention to these cruel state actions.

Please help NAPW ensure that the war on drugs is not expanded to women's wombs, and that child welfare actions are based on science and actual evidence, not stigma.