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Pregnant Women, Junk Science, and Zealous Defense
By Lynn Paltrow
There is no such thing as a “crack” or “meth baby”1 and no state has a statute that makes it a crime for a drug-using pregnant woman to continue her pregnancy to term, to give birth, or to suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth. Nevertheless, some pregnant women and new mothers are still being arrested in the United States when they give birth or suffer a stillbirth and test positive for an illegal drug or alcohol. These prosecutions not only lack legal foundation, they also lack medical and scientific foundation. In other words, they are based on junk law and junk science.
In 1993, The Champion published an article entitled Winning Strategies: Defending the Rights of Pregnant Addicts.2 It outlined the statutory and constitutional arguments that could be used to challenge the prosecution of pregnant women who continued to term in spite of a drug problem. These arguments remain valid today, and with the exception of the Supreme Court of South Carolina, have been used successfully to get char
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