Nearly 1,400 People Were Arrested For How They Acted During Pregnancy Before Roe Fell | EUROtoday

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Women have lengthy been susceptible to being arrested for his or her conduct whereas pregnant ― and advocates fear that state legal guidelines handed for the reason that fall of Roe v. Wade will make such punishments extra widespread.

A brand new report from Pregnancy Justicea authorized advocacy group for pregnant individuals, reveals that lots of of pregnant Americans had been criminalized for his or her being pregnant outcomes, together with miscarriage, even when Roe was in impact. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines the criminalization of being pregnant as penalizing individuals for actions that might be seen as dangerous to their fetuses, even when these behaviors wouldn’t in any other case be thought of prison.

Nearly 1,400 prison arrests befell between 2006 and June 2022, based on Pregnancy Justice’s report, for issues like utilizing illicit substances or ingesting alcohol whereas pregnant. Other circumstances embody pregnant girls being criminalized for not sporting a seatbelt, refusing a C-section, not getting prenatal care whereas pregnant and having HIV.

“We should all be incredibly concerned about the fact that pregnant people are getting arrested, prosecuted, separated from their children and incarcerated for actions that should not be illegal,” Lourdes Rivera, the president of Pregnancy Justice, mentioned throughout a press name on Tuesday.

Many of the tales included in Pregnancy Justice’s report made nationwide headlines. In 2014, for instance, a Tennessee girl who was 9 months pregnant was arrested for driving and not using a seatbelt. She had engaged “in conduct which placed her baby in imminent danger or death or serious bodily injury,” based on the warrant for her arrest.

“The Dobbs decision basically flung open the gates for these types of criminalizations to continue and increase.”

– Lourdes Rivera, Pregnancy Justice

Geography and revenue stage are the best components with regards to being pregnant criminalization, based on the report. White pregnant people who find themselves low-income are essentially the most criminalized group, whereas Black pregnant people who find themselves low-income are additionally overrepresented within the information.

Around 80% of those arrests occurred in 5 Southern states: Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Oklahoma. Three of these states ― Alabama, South Carolina and Oklahoma ― acknowledge fetuses as individuals of their prison codes, an more and more widespread kind of laws referred to as fetal personhood legal guidelines.

“We can tie this increase in criminalization directly to the expansion of the increased ideology of fetal personhood. The idea that a fetus or a fertilized egg has the same, if not more rights, than the actual person carrying the pregnancy,” Rivera mentioned. “During the period that we’re looking at 2006 to June 2022, fetal personhood gained influence and has increasingly become embedded in laws in judicial decisions.”

Fifteen states had some type of prison fetal personhood legal guidelines in impact earlier than Roe fell final summer time. Many, like South Carolina and Alabama, middle on drug use throughout being pregnant and have traditionally been weaponized towards essentially the most marginalized, together with poor girls and other people of shade.

Over 95% of the almost 1,400 circumstances of being pregnant criminalization handled substance use throughout being pregnant, Pregnancy Justice discovered. The three most typical substances present in these circumstances had been methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana; the latter is authorized in lots of states. One-quarter of the circumstances concerned the alleged use of authorized substances, resembling prescription opiates, nicotine and alcohol.

One case included in Pregnancy Justice’s report was a 19-year-old girl from Oklahoma who, in 2020 went to the hospital after experiencing a miscarriage, however she was arrested and charged with manslaughter after she informed hospital employees she had used marijuana and methamphetamine whereas pregnant. The younger girl couldn’t afford her $20,000 bail and remained in jail for a yr and a half earlier than she was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 4 years in jail.

And these circumstances don’t simply occur in pink states. A pregnant girl in California gave start to a stillborn child in 2018. She was later charged with homicide, and the prosecutor in her case argued that her meth use triggered the stillbirth, and he or she spent 4 years in jail earlier than the cost was dropped.

Fetal personhood legal guidelines that centered on pregnant individuals and drug use, like these in impact earlier than Roe fell, allowed prosecutors to cost pregnant girls with “chemical endangerment of a child.” For instance, Alabama handed its chemical endangerment regulation in 2006 to guard youngsters from harmful fumes and chemical substances present in home-based meth labs.

Not lengthy after, district attorneys began making use of the regulation to drug-using pregnant girls, regardless of the regulation together with nothing about fetuses. Prosecutors stretched the interpretation of the regulation, reasoning {that a} fetus is a toddler, and by ingesting medicine, the pregnant individual is bringing chemical hurt to the so-called youngster. As a end result, Alabama’s regulation has been used to criminalize dozens of pregnant individuals within the state after they check constructive for an unlawful drug or authorized remedy.

Pregnancy Justice’s report additionally contextualizes the historical past of substance use for pregnant individuals within the U.S., pointing to the racist and politically motivated “war on drugs” marketing campaign of the Eighties.

“Pregnancy criminalization first became widespread in the 1980s, amid the sensationalized, racialized, and resoundingly debunked ‘crack baby epidemic,’” the report reads. “This armed the anti-abortion movement with a perfect narrative to move their agenda forward: it played on racist and sexist tropes about Black women and their right to reproduce… and it created a new category of crime victim: the innocent fetus, fertilized egg, or embryo. Black women were overwhelmingly the targets of pregnancy criminalization in the first several decades after Roe.”

Chemical endangerment legal guidelines and different fetal personhood legal guidelines are nonetheless in impact in these 15 states and can possible goal much more pregnant individuals with out the protections of Roe. Last yr, Georgia grew to become the primary state to move a fetal personhood regulation after the Supreme Court’s resolution in Dobbs, which overturned Roe.

“The Dobbs decision basically flung open the gates for these types of criminalizations to continue and increase,” Rivera mentioned. “Unless we do something about it, this is unfortunately going to be the trend.”

Head right here to learn the Pregnancy Justice report in full.