• radicalhw

    Thank you for sharing your story–I imagine it couldn’t have been easy to write or publish. Again, this is another example of how supposedly “pro-life” policies and attitudes demonize and terrorize women in their hour of greatest need. Congratulations on your sobriety and thank you again for speaking out.

  • Caroline

    Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU for sharing your story about struggling with addiction during pregnancy. I am a doctoral student and have been doing research on this very topic for several years now, and it is also the topic of my dissertation research. This was a very well written article – you did a great job of sharing a personal account of your experience while also including crucial facts about the dangers of punitive policies aimed at punishing pregnant women with addictions. Through my research, I have met many, many women who have experienced many of the things you did, but unfortunately these issues are not often discussed, and many people are not even aware of the problems caused by turning a disease (addiction) into a moral deficit or even a criminal offense. In 17 states, substance use during pregnancy is considered child abuse and the authorities can (and certainly have) take a child away from his/her mother if the mother is addicted to a substance; 15 states require that health professionals report “suspected” prenatal drug abuse; 3 states consider it grounds for civil commitment; and South Carolina has actually upheld criminal prosecutions for prenatal substance abuse. As you mentioned in your story, these laws end up keeping pregnant women away from the prenatal care that they need, as many women are (understandably) afraid that they will have their child taken away from them after they give birth. As important as prenatal care is for all pregnant women, it is even MORE important for pregnant women struggling with addictions. There have been numerous studies indicating that prenatal care reduces the impact of prenatal substance use on birth outcomes, greatly reducing the risk of adverse outcomes like low birthweight. In one study by Dr. Ayman El-Mohandes, addicted women who did not receive any prenatal care were a staggering 14 times more likely to deliver a low birthweight infant and 12 times more likely to deliver a premature infant than addicted women who received adequate prenatal care. Not only do punitive policies keep women from getting vital prenatal care, but they are also associated with significant racial and socioeconomic disparities. Even though white women are more likely to use substances (alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs) during pregnancy, pregnant Black women are many times more likely to be screened for substance use AND to be reported if they produce a positive urinalysis. This is also true for low-SES women compared to high-SES women. Unfortunately, this creates an even bigger problem since research shows that low-SES women and Black women are at increased risk of poor birth outcomes, and thus, it is even MORE important for these women to receive adequate prenatal care. By scaring them away, the baby and the mother are dealt a great injustice and placed at a much greater risk than they would be with adequate prenatal care.
    I am so glad you shared your story, and I hope it helps people to see that addiction during pregnancy is not a criminal act, a moral shortcoming, or a character deficit. It is a disease, and we, as the medical community, should be doing everything we can to encourage ALL women to attend prenatal care. The last thing we should be doing is implementing policies to keep women away from the medical system. Pregnancy is a wonderful window of opportunity to help women overcome their addictions, and we are throwing that away by penalizing women for a disease they do not want to have. I am so happy that you were able to make it through such a difficult experience – and you didn’t just make it through, but you overcame a very tough battle with addiction, which has undoubtedly allowed you to be a happier, healthier mother. I wish you all the best, and thank you again for being brave enough to share your experience with us.
    -Caroline O.

    • RonPaul2012

      Great post. Paragraphs are your friend, however:)

  • Ineedacoffee

    Thanks for sharing.

  • lorimakesquilts

    Thank you for sharing. Pregnancy is difficult enough without being judged.

    By the control freaks reasoning a pregnant woman should be in jail if she has preeclampsia and even looks at a salt shaker or if she has gestational diabetes and eats a sweet. It makes me long for the days of my mother when smoking and drinking during pregnancy was no one else’s business.

    There is so much intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship these days that it only reinforces my (not entirely rational — childhood trauma) distrust of the medical establishment. I only share essential information with my doctor. It’s sad, really, but I can’t trust the law to protect my privacy, and my healthcare undoubtedly suffers because of it.

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