Pubdate: Mon, 26 Jun 2000
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2000 The State
Author: Wyndi Anderson, Executive Director South Carolina Advocates for
Pregnant Women Charleston


I read with concern your editorial, "Limits during pregnancy should be
defined in law" (May 23). While much of what is stated is true, the
conclusion, "The idea of declaring certain activities during pregnancy
to be illegal is a sound one," flies in the face of every leading
medical group to address the issues of pregnancy and addiction. Groups
ranging from the March of Dimes to the American Academy of Pediatrics
to the American Medical Association have all recognized that treating
any aspect of pregnancy as a criminal justice matter not only
threatens pregnant women, but will undermine the health interests of
fetuses and children.

No matter how narrowly defined a piece of legislation is, it will
still turn what is a woman's status -- pregnancy -- into a potential
crime and, in all likelihood, deter women from obtaining prenatal and
other health care.

While it is impossible to determine if any single factor made the
difference, it should certainly be of concern that following the
Whitner decision, there was an increase in infant mortality in this
state for the first time in 10 years.

For more than a decade, legislatures across the country have
considered proposals to criminalize some aspect of pregnancy. These
legislatures have unanimously rejected such an approach, not only out
of concern for basic civil liberties, but in recognition of the
overwhelming medical evidence that such an approach is
counterproductive and dangerous.

The most powerful and productive action a legislature could take to
help children and women who are affected by drug addiction is to
allocate funding for programs that treat addiction and rehabilitate
families that have been torn apart by poverty, neglect and poor education.
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