In newly insane North Carolina women could be slapped with an assault charge for using drugs while pregnant, bringing it ever closer in resemblance to more well-established insane states like Alabama, where fetuses have lawyers.
S297— introduced Tuesday by noted obstetricians Republican Sens. Brent Jackson, a farmer, and Sen. Louis Pate, retired—would criminalize a woman for using narcotic drugs while pregnant if her child is born “addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug and the addiction or harm is a result of her illegal use of a narcotic drug taken while pregnant.” The woman could avoid criminal prosecution by completing a drug-addiction recovery program.
Obviously, in an ideal world, pregnant women wouldn’t use drugs. But as the left-leaning blog The Progressive Pulse points out, drug dependency is a “recognized medical condition that must be treated with proper medical care.”
Furthermore, women who are using narcotic drugs while pregnant likely may not have access to, or money to pay for, treatment for drug addiction, and many treatment centers don’t admit or aren’t prepared to treat pregnant women.
This is all to say, no good will come of prosecuting a drug-addicted mother with a new child. As with most terrible public policy made in regards to women’s “health,” criminalizing drug use during pregnancy would disproportionately affect poor and minority women who don’t have access to drug treatment facilities, or even decent medical/pre-natal facilities, in the first place.