Articles and Reports
Florida Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse & Newborns, February 2013 Final Report: An Inadequate Assessment of the Needs of Women, Children, and Families
Executive Summary: Paltrow & Flavin, "Arrests of and forced interventions on pregnant women in the United States (1973-2005): The implications for women's legal status and public health," Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law
National Advocates for Pregnant Women’s one-of-a-kind study identifies hundreds of criminal and civil cases involving the arrests, detentions and equivalent deprivations of pregnant women’s physical liberty that occurred between 1973 and 2005, after the decision in Roe v. Wade was issued. In each of the 413 cases, pregnancy was a necessary element and the consequences included: arrests; incarceration; increases in prison or jail sentences; detentions in hospitals, mental institutions and drug treatment programs; and forced medical interventions, including surgery. Data showed that state authorities have used post-Roe measures including feticide laws and anti-abortion laws recognizing separate rights for fertilized, eggs, embryos and fetuses as the basis for depriving pregnant women – whether they were seeking to end a pregnancy or go to term – of their physical liberty. The findings make clear that if so called “personhood” measures are enacted, not only will more women who have abortions be arrested, such measures would create the legal basis for depriving all pregnant women of their status as full persons under the law.
Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973–2005: Implications for Women’s Legal Status and Public Health
Lynn Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin
Abstract: In November 2011, the citizens of Mississippi voted down Proposition 26, a “personhood” measure that sought to establish separate constitutional rights for fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses. This proposition raised the question of whether such measures could be used as the basis for depriving pregnant women of their liberty through arrests or forced medical interventions. Over the past four decades, descriptions of selected subsets of arrests and forced interventions on pregnant women have been published. Such cases, however, have never been systematically identified and documented, nor has the basis for their deprivations of liberty been comprehensively examined. In this article we report on 413 cases from 1973 to 2005 in which a woman’s pregnancy was a necessary factor leading to attempted and actual deprivations of a woman’s physical liberty. First, we describe key characteristics of the women and the cases, including socioeconomic status and race. Second, we investigate the legal claims made to justify the arrests, detentions, and forced interventions. Third, we explore the role played by health care providers. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings and the likely impact of personhood measures on pregnant women’s liberty and on maternal, fetal, and child health.
Available here in the Journal of Health, Politics, Policy and Law, Vol. 38, No. 2, April 2013, Duke University Press.
Lynn M. Paltrow, American Journal of Public Health, 2013, Vol. 103, No. 1
All pregnant women, not just those who seek to end a pregnancy, have benefited from Roe v Wade. Today’s system of mass incarceration makes it likely that if Roe is overturned women who have abortions will go to jail.Efforts to establish separate legal “personhood” for fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses, however, are already being used as the basis for the arrests and detentions of and forced interventions on pregnant women, including those who seek to go to term. Examination of these punitive actions makes clear that attacks on Roe threaten all pregnant women not only with the loss of their reproductive rights and physical liberty but also with the loss of their status as full constitutional persons.
(A m J Public Health. 2013;103: 17–21. doi:10.2105/AJPH. 2012.301104)
A full copy of this article is available. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy.
Lynn M. Paltrow
New York University Review of Law & Social Change
Vol.35, No. 1, 2011
This article uses the McCorvey v. Hill case to illustrate how the pro-choice movement and traditional lawyering approaches have missed critical opportunities to use attacks on Roe and other anti-abortion cases as a way to build alliances across the range of issues and movements necessary to protect the right to choose abortion, and more fundamentally the personhood of pregnant women. It not only describes the history of the McCorvey case but also outlines what can be done to more effectively counter abortion recriminalization efforts and to truly advance Reproductive Justice.
Praise for the article: here
Lynn M. Paltrow, JD & Kathrine Jack, DJ
Reprinted with permission from The Champion magazine.
© National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2010.
Jeanne Flavin, PhD
Lynn M. Paltrow, JD
Journal of Addictive Diseases, Volume 29 Issue 2 2010
Special issue on Women, Children and Addiction
The arrests, detentions, prosecutions, and other legal actions taken against drug-dependent pregnant women distract attention from significant social problems, such as our lack of universal health care, the dearth of policies to support pregnant and parenting women, the absence of social supports for children, and the overall failure of the drug war. The attempts to “protect the fetus” undertaken through the criminal justice system (as well as in family and drug courts) actually undermine maternal and fetal health and discourage efforts to identify and implement effective strategies for addressing the needs of pregnant drug users and their families. In this article, the authors seek to expose some of the flawed premises on which the arrests, detentions, and prosecutions are based. The authors highlight the inherent unfairness of a system that expects low-income and drug-dependent pregnant women to provide their fetuses with the health care and safety that these women themselves are not provided and have not been guaranteed.
The following written statement was presented as part of the Universal Periodic Review Consultation process with the U.S. State Department. NAPW has documented numerous cases of severe and often hidden abuses faced by pregnant women. The Review, mandated by the United Nations, was created to expose human rights concerns and help countries begin to address them. The review is an opportunity for the public and organizations involved in documenting human rights violations to assess the US’s human rights record and human rights violations domestically and included panels and presentations on issues such as housing, employment and labor, education, health and criminal justice/detention.
Farah Diaz-Tello, Lynn Paltrow
NAPW and More than 100 Signatories Request That Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings Consider Impact on All Pregnant Women
On June 22, 2009 National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) released to the public a letter with more than 100 signatories sent to the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate requesting that the Committee ask Judge Sonia Sotomayor and all future Supreme Court nominees: Is there a point in pregnancy when you believe women lose their civil rights? This letter, discussed in Rachel Roth's RhRealityCheck Commentary, addresses the harm that will result if abortion is outlawed and provides concrete examples of civil rights violations against pregnant women that undermine both maternal and fetal health and that would occur routinely if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
By Barry Lester, PhD and Sue Veer, MBA, CMPE
State (Columbia, S.C.)
July 1, 2008
In 1991, Regina McKnight turned to cocaine to numb the pain she felt as a result of her mother's sudden death. Ms. McKnight happened to be pregnant at the time. When she suffered a stillbirth, the State of South Carolina charged her with homicide by child abuse, claiming that her cocaine use caused the stillbirth despite the fact that scientific research does not link the two.
Panel Rejects Court's Ban on Pregnancy
Lynn M. Paltrow
March 12, 2007
Lynn M. Paltrow is the executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
Many people in the U.S. work to protect the rights of pregnant women and to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect. But as a result of the divisive abortion debate, many of those advocates typically do not work together—or even speak to one another.
The anti-abortion movement has successfully used the abortion issue to divide the electorate, and a key part of their strategy has been creating the illusion that there are two kinds of women: those who have abortions and those who have babies. The truth is that 61 percent of women who have abortions are already mothers, and another 24 percent will go on to become mothers. Over the course of their lives, 85 percent of all women bring life into this world and provide the vast majority of care for the lives of those around them—without compensation.
Friday, January 19, 2007 (SF Chronicle)
On the Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade/Creating a true 'culture of life'
Lynn M. Paltrow
For the past 10 years, the term "culture of life" has been little more than window dressing for the hundreds of laws that limit access to abortion -- or advance the interests of fetuses, as if they existed separately from the pregnant women who carry them. The time has come to have a real conversation about what our country could be doing to support maternal, fetal and familial health, and to value motherhood and child rearing.
Our lawmakers' consideration of more than 600 abortion-related bills a year creates the illusion that the only aspect of pregnancy that needs attention is abortion. In reality, however, far too many pregnant and birthing women lack access to the kind of care, support and critical
information they need.
In the best-case scenario, our lawmakers could enact a universal health-care program -- ending this country's status as the only industrialized nation without one. While they were in the business of
valuing life, they would pass a comprehensive family and medical leave insurance program that would provide paid leave to a new mother to care for her child.
Lynn Paltrow, NAPW Executive Director was asked by the Editors of Conscience Magazine, the News Journal of Catholic Opinion to participate in a Roundtable: Talking the Talk on Abortion. As the Editors expained:
The debate over abortion is not one that is going away soon, and there is much discussion about which side, if either, is winning or losing. Conscience asked leaders in the reproductive rights movement to send us their thoughts as to whether the reproductive rights movement needs to change how it talks about abortion and, if so, how.NAPW's contribution to this discusion is entitled Long-Term Policies, Long-Term Gains. To see the full roundtable and the magazine, please go to: http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/conscience/current/default.asp
Women's eNews features a commentary, Jailing Pregnant Women Raises Health Risks by former NAPW legal intern/NYU law student Julie Ehrlich and Lynn Paltrow.
The prestigious Hastings Center Report, a journal "promoting thoughtful, balanced reflection on the ethical and social issues of medicine and medical science" published an article by Dr. Howard Minkoff and Lynn Paltrow, NAPW Executive Director. The article, "The Rights of 'Unborn Children' and the Value of Pregnant Women" discusses fetal rights legislation and how mothers are "beatified in words and vilified in deeds."
By Lynn Paltrow and Charon Asetoyer
March 08, 2006
Lynn Paltrow is the executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women in New York and Charon Asetoyer is the executive director of the Native American Women's Health and Education Resource Center in South Dakota.
This week South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds signed a law that bans almost all abortions in the state. Neither the governor nor the law's supporters have been honest about what the effect of the law will be.
Those who authored the law want to create impression that only the people providing the abortions will be punished, not the women having them. They are not brave enough enough to admit what is clear: women will be punished and they and their families will suffer if this law goes into effect.
Womens Media Center Exclusive: Call for New Support of Grassroots Activists By Lynn M. Paltrow
While the South Dakota Governor's decision to sign into law a ban on virtually all abortions is horrifying to many, it should not come as a much of a surprise.
Anti-abortion and conservative forces have spent the last 30 years working at the grassroots to inspire and mobilize activists and to elect anti-choice policymakers who can pass ever more restrictive abortion laws. While pro-choice and progressive activists have been very good at stopping those laws once enacted, relatively few resources have been invested in grassroots and state based activism that would prevent these laws from passing in the first place.
The Pax Cable Television Station had a show called It's a Miracle purporting to report on real miracles. This particular episode concerned a family who adopted a so called "crack" baby that miraculously turned out to be fine despite the damage the prenatal cocaine exposure allegedly caused. As the published letter below explaines, this child’s health and success despite prenatal exposure to cocaine is not a miracle. Scientific data has long demonstrated that cocaine does not cause the devastating problems portrayed generally in the media and specifically by this television show. What was a real miracle was our victory in United States Supreme Court in the case of Ferguson v. City of Charleston recognizing that hospital patients, including drug using pregnant women, don't lose their Fourth Amendment constitutional rights when they seek health care.
By Anju Mary Paul - WeNews correspondent
(WOMENSENEWS)--Kathy Gable was seven months' pregnant with her first child and worried. Her gynecologist had warned her that her baby might have Down's Syndrome, and Gable needed to have two ultrasound scans each month to monitor the progress of her pregnancy.
Punishing Women for Their Behavior During Pregnancy: An Approach That Undermines the Health of Women and Children
For more than a decade, law enforcement personnel, judges, and elected officials nationwide have sought to punish women for their actions during pregnancy that may affect the fetuses they are carrying (Gallagher 1987). Women who are having children despite substance abuse problems have been a particular target, finding themselves pros- ecuted for such nonexistent crimes as 3fetal abuse2 and delivery of drugs through the umbilical cord. In addition, pregnant women are being civilly committed or jailed, and new mothers are losing custody of their children even when they would be capable parents. Meanwhile, State legislators have repeatedly introduced substance abuse and child welfare proposals that would penalize only pregnant women with addiction problems.
By: Lynn Paltrow, WeNews commentator, posted July 13, 2004
As the campaign season heats up it's a good time to take political stock of the Catholic bishops' June proclamation permitting bishops to refuse to give communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians.
By: Lynn M. Paltrow, Executive Director, National Advocates for Pregnant Women
The Democratic National Party is reevaluating its position on abortion. Some members are suggesting that democrats should move away from pro-choice positions while others, including Hillary Clinton, continue to defend abortion but in seemingly more muted and apologetic terms. Instead of abandoning abortion rights and the millions of women who have had abortions, Democrats must make clear that efforts to outlaw abortion and expand the legal rights of fetuses are being used to hurt and dishonor pregnant women, mothers and families.
M E T H and motherhood: The myths of addiction are slowly crumbling as Arizona moms rebuild their families
By: Mary K. Reinhart, East Valley Tribune, published December 22, 2005
The preschooler snuggles close to her mother on the couch, limp like the blanket that covers the two of them. "She's got a fever," the mother whispers as she strokes her daughter's hair. Not such an unusual sight, unless you consider that the mother is a recovering methamphetamine addict, she's pregnant with her second child, and this little family lives with more than 20 other women and their kids in a residential drug treatment program. The Center for Hope in Mesa is the only place in the East Valley that takes drug-addicted pregnant women and their kids, and one of only a few in the state. But that may change in the coming years as growing support for methamphetamine prevention and treatment takes hold.
by Jarrett Murphy, The Village Voice, November 8th, 2005
Once more into the breach go America's abortion partisans, this time over
Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court. The issue, pro-choice people say,
is nothing less than defending Roe v. Wade. But the fact is that something far less than
the rights protected by Roe is what most American women have faced for a long time.
In September of 2005, NAPW had an extraordinary opportunity to test the theory that by building on the lessons learned from our clients, our concurrent work on drug policy reform, and Terry McGovern's research on building grassroots pro-choice activism, we could begin to go on the offensive in our efforts to advance reproductive and social justice in America. On September 22nd, Executive Director Lynn Paltrow testified by telephone before the South Dakota Task Force on abortion. Along with other experts--pro and anti-choice--NAPW participated in an event clearly intended to lay the groundwork for new and even more punitive restrictions on access to abortion services in South Dakota and nationwide. During the testimony NAPW challenged the task force by asking why it was ignoring the health concerns of the majority of pregnant women including the ones who continue to term and the ones who suffer miscarriages and stillbirths.
By: Lynn M. Paltrow and Terry McGovern, August 19, 2005
From The New York Times to Fox News Channel, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) has been roundly criticized for running a television ad that portrayed U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts as supporting violence at abortion clinics. In response to the outcry, NARAL withdrew the ad. But instead of debating the wisdom of one group’s TV ads, we need to go back to basics.
By Barry Lester, Ph.D., Guest Commentary, JoinTogether.org, August 17, 2005
Recently (July 27, 2005), Medical News Today (MNT) carried a story with the alarming title, "Single prenatal dose of meth causes birth defects." Join Together, a prominent website, published a summary of the story with a similar headline and opening with the possibly more inflammatory, "Pregnant women who use methamphetamine even once put their unborn children at risk of birth defects" (July 29, 2005). These headlines misleadingly imply that the research involved women when it actually involved mice, and both the original story and the Join Together summary failed to mention that this animal research may have little if any bearing on the health outcome of humans prenatally exposed to methamphetamines.
subject to debate by Katha Pollitt [from The Nation magazine, July 11, 2005 issue]
In the wake of the 2004 election, Democrats have embarked on an orgy of what the linguist George Lakoff calls "reframing"--repositioning their policies linguistically to give them mass moral appeal. Prime candidate for a values makeover? Abortion, of course.
Recently, an Arkansas woman, Natasha Spainhour of Hot Springs, made headlines when she gave birth to twins who allegedly tested positive for methamphetamine. She was arrested and charged with administering a drug to another. Fortunately, a Garland County prosecutor, Terri Harris, made the decision to drop the charges. She should be praised for following the law and protecting the health interests of both pregnant women and children.
By Lisa Collier Cool, Baby Talk magazine, May, 2005
Amber Marlowe anticipated an easy delivery when she went into labor on January 14, 2004. But after a routine ultrasound, doctors at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, in Pennsylvania, decided that the baby--at what looked like 13 pounds--was too big to deliver vaginally and told her that she needed to have a cesarean. The mom-to-be, however, wasn't convinced: After all, she'd given birth to her six previous kids the natural way, including other large babies. And monitoring showed that the fetus was in no apparent distress.
By: Monica M. Lewis, BlackAmericaWeb.com, March 23, 2005
From 1980 to 2000, the number of women in prison increased nearly twice as fast as the number of men.
By: Lynn M. Paltrow, published in Perspectives, Volume 13, No.3, Winter 2005
I started my career defending a woman's right to choose abortion and now run National Advocates for Pregnant Women, an organization that works on behalf of pregnant women and families. No, I haven't had a political or religious conversion. What I have had is the opportunity to see how the abortion issue distracts us from shared political and family values.
subject to debate By: Katha Pollitt, The Nation magazine, January 3, 2005
subject to debate by Katha Pollitt, The Nation magazine, April 26, 2004.
The good news is that Utah has dropped murder charges against Melissa Rowland, who rejected her doctors' advice to undergo an immediate Caesarean section and gave birth to a stillborn boy and a girl who tested positive for cocaine. The bad news is that she has accepted a plea to two counts of child endangerment for using drugs during pregnancy and faces a possible five-year sentence. Whatever one calls it, this is what we've come to in America: failure to produce a live, healthy, non-drug-exposed baby can land you in prison.
By: Lynn M. Paltrow, AlterNet.org, April 22, 2004
Imagine a law declaring that upon becoming pregnant a woman loses her right to bodily integrity, life and liberty. Such a law would undoubtedly result in strong opposition across party lines. But in fact such laws are being passed -- though rather than presented as an attack on women's fundamental rights, they are advanced as fetal rights measures such as the Unborn Victims of Violence Act recently signed into law by President Bush. Increasingly, fetal rights are being used to undermine the legal status of pregnant women.
By: Lynn M. Paltrow, TomPaine.com, posted March 21, 2004
An arrest in Utah last week of a 28-year-old woman who allegedly committed murder by refusing to undergo a C-section represents a shocking abuse of state authority and a dangerous disregard for medical ethics.
Signatories from Leading Hospitals and Research Institutes in US and Canada Agree That Term Lacks Scientific Basis and Is Dangerous to Children
Letter Sent to Washington Post, Arizona Republic, LA Weekly, Charleston Post and Courier, Amarillo Globe-News and Other Media Using These Terms
By: Rina Jimenez-David, Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 2, 2004
"CRIMINALIZING Motherhood" is how Silja J.A. Talvi, writing for The Nation, titled her piece on the case of a woman in South Carolina who is serving 12 years in prison for the "crime" of giving birth to a stillborn child.
By: Silja J.A. Talvi, The Nation magazine, December 11, 2003
Regina McKnight is doing twelve years in prison for a stillbirth, carving out a dangerous intersection between the drug war and the antichoice movement. In the eyes of the South Carolina Attorney General's office, McKnight committed murder.
By: Andrew Gumbel, The Independent UK, November 25, 2003
Barbara Harris was working as a waitress in a southern California pancake house when she stumbled on the cause that would become her passion: saving America from the scourge of "crack babies". It was 1990, and she and her husband were asked to become foster parents to an eight-month-old girl born to a crack-cocaine-addicted mother. Over the next two years, they took in three more children born to the same woman, including one suffering from a neurological disorder that the Harrises were convinced was the result of damage incurred during pregnancy.
By: Kirsten Scharnberg, Chicago Tribune, November 23, 2003
By: Siobhan Morrissey, ABA Journal eReport (American Bar Association), October 17, 2003
While most states have provisions that deal with parental responsibility for the actions of their minor children, two recent cases indicate some states are expanding on that legal concept.
Most states hold parents civilly and criminally responsible if a child becomes delinquent. Here, one woman was blamed for her child’s suicide and another for delivering a stillborn child.
By: Allison Gendar, Daily News (New York), October 4, 2003.
An upstate woman admitted in court yesterday she has a drinking problem after being arrested for giving birth to a drunken baby boy.
TRIAL Magazine (August 2003).
Hard-won protections for reproductive freedom are increasingly under attack, says this advocate for pregnant women. She fights back in the courts.
Thirty years after Roe v. Wade, Lynn Paltrow—Executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) in New York City—believes that women still face an array of limitations on their reproductive decision-making, including health and welfare policies that can undermine motherhood, especially for low-income and minority women.
Petition Filed Today Seeking U.S. Supreme Court Review of Unprecedented South Carolina Decision Treating a Woman Who Suffered A Stillbirth as a Murderer
MEDIA ADVISORY Contact: 917-921-7421
FOR TUESDAY, May 27th, 2003
On May 27, 2003 counsel for Regina McKnight filed a petition with U.S. Court Supreme Court requesting review of a South Carolina Supreme Court decision that effectively rewrote the state's homicide by child abuse law to permit prosecution and conviction of pregnant women who experience stillbirths.
By: Lynn Paltrow
posted on Alternet.org on April 15, 2002
Several weeks ago, my children and I watched a family movie on the ABC Family Channel, and together we were exposed to the entertaining and fascinating world of drugs, drug money and violence.
By: Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe at A19, February 7, 2002
HATE to start the morning off with cynicism. It's so corrosive to the human spirit.
Yes, the Bush administration's proposal to extend health insurance coverage to embryos looks like a political ploy to keep the antiabortion wing of the Republican Party happy.
By: Bob Herbert, New York Times, February 4, 2002
They tried to camouflage the action. Bush administration officials presented it as an altruistic attempt to bring badly needed health care benefits to low-income pregnant women. It was actually a guerrilla attack on abortion rights.
By: Lynn M. Paltrow, New York Times, letters, February 22, 2001
Re "Antidrug Program Says It Will Adopt a New Strategy" ( front page, Feb. 15 ): Even as revised, the DARE program will not effectively address some important precursors to drug use.
The War on Drugs and the War on Abortion: Some Initial Thoughts on the Connections, Intersections and the Effects
Lynn Paltrow*, 28 Southern University Law Review 201 (2001).
By: Sheigla Murphy and Paloma Sales
In this paper we present analyses of two National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded studies entitled, "An Ethnographic Study of Pregnancy and Drug Use" (Rosenbaum and Murphy 1991-94) and "An Ethnography of Victimization, Pregnancy and Drug Use," (Murphy 1995-98). Our goal is to explicate the ways in which pregnant drug users in the San Francisco Bay Area experienced, coped with and protected themselves from increasing stigmatization, abuse and punishment while enduring a period of fiscal retrenchment of government assistance programs.
By Lynn Paltrow
The first person I saw when I arrived at the Second National Harm Reduction Conference in Cleveland, Ohio last October was the Reverend Howard Moody. Reverend Moody is a great hero of mine, and not only because of his current work organizing clergy to speak out against the drug war. As a reproductive rights litigator, I came to learn of his very critical and radical work to help legalize abortion. When abortion was illegal in this country -- and to say free abortion on demand was as radical as it is to say today "free drug treatment on demand"
By: Wyndi Marie Anderson, Point (SC), Winter 2000
By: Wyndi Anderson, The State (SC), June 26, 2000
By: Lynn M. Paltrow, J.D. and Robert Newman, M.D., (first published in the Houston Chronicle, Sunday January 30, 2000 at 4C).
Just as government data give us welcome news that crack use is on the decline, C.R.A.C.K., a private program that offers addicts $200 to use long-acting birth control or to get sterilized is attracting national support. While it is true that the financial incentive is modest; the numbers accepting the offer still relatively few (fewer than 400) and that at least some of the women express genuine appreciation for the program, there is cause for grave concern about this initiative because it promotes prejudice and perpetuates myths.
By: Lynn Paltrow and Robert Newman, Houston Chronicle (TX), January 30, 2000
JUST as government data give us welcome news that crack use is on the decline, C.R.A.C.K. -- Children Require a Caring Kommunity, a private program that offers addicts $200 to get their tubes tied -- is attracting national support, including a Houston businessman who recently contributed $50,000 to the program. True, the financial incentive is modest and the numbers accepting the offer are few ( under 100 ). But there is cause for grave concern about this initiative because it promotes prejudice and perpetuates myths.
Throughout the late 1980's and still today, "crack moms" and "crack babies" are the subject of vigorous public debate. Much of this public discussion has been governed by speculation and medical misinformation reported as fact in both medical journals and in the popular press and has been extremely judgmental and punitive in many instances.
By: Lynn Paltrow, 62 Albany Law Review 999 (1999)
Roe v. Wade marked only the beginning of the struggle for reproductive justice for all women. Many women fall outside of its "core" protections. Among these are drug addicted pregnant women. This article addresses how the arrest and prosecution of these women, based on claims of fetal personhood, reflect the extent to which Roe is vulnerable. By linking anti-abortion arguments to other highly-charged political issues and to particularly marginalized groups of women, anti-choice advocates have made significant inroads on the limited rights won in Roe v. Wade. Twenty-five years after Roe v. Wade's decision that fetuses are not legal persons, claims of fetal personhood are gaining unprecedented legal recognition while the struggle for women's rights and full constitutional personhood remains far from finished.
This documents the cases of an estimated 167 women who have been arrested on criminal charges because of their behavior during pregnancy or because they became pregnant while addicted to drugs. The cases are from twenty-four states. A disproportionate number of these cases come from just two states, Florida and South Carolina, and are concentrated in two counties in each of those states. This article is posted here with the permission of the American Civil Liberties Union.