Pubdate: Sun, 11 Nov 2001
Source: DrugSense (US)
Copyright: 2001 DrugSense
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DrugSense - Sunday, November 11, 2001, 5:00 PM

DrugSenseBot001: Lynn Paltrow of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women 
program of the Women's Law Project will be our special guest in the 
DrugSense Chat Room, Sun. Nov 11, 2001 8:00 EDT, 5:00PM Pacific time. See for a schedule

Dean_Becker: Welcome to the Drugsense Chat Ms. Paltrow. Thank you Mr. Becker.

Dean_Becker: Please explain to the viewers here the nature of your work

Lynn Paltrow: I am executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant 
Women.  One major focus of our work in ensuring that women are not punished 
for pregnancy or any condition or behavior during pregnancy including drug 
use or addiction.

Lynn Paltrow: "NAPW" works at the intersection of the war on reproductive 
rights and the war on drugs.  I am a lawyer and have worked on many cases 
involving the prosecution of drug-using pregnant women.

Jo-D: lynn, how many hospital's drug test pregnant women?

Lynn Paltrow: WE don't know the answer to that.  Drug testing is generally 
a matter left to the discretion of individual health care providers or 
established as a matter of each hospital's policy.  Very few laws 
explicitly mandate drug testing of pregnant women.  Rather it is 
discretionary and results in extremely discriminatory patterns of testing 
and reporting.

observer: Lynn, Any comment on the recent US Supreme Court ruling 
concerning the Medical University of South Carolina's test-and-arrest 
policy for minority mothers?

Lynn Paltrow: Yes, I have a lot to say.  I filed that case with Susan Dunn 
on behalf of two women -- way back in 1993.  But it really all started in 
1989.  A nurse at a Charleston hospital decided that she was seeing a 
problem of cocaine use among the African American obstetric patients and 
wanted to see them punished.  It took more than a decade to finally get a 

Lynn Paltrow: WE challenged the policy of searching pregnant women for drug 
use on 9 different legal theories.  By the time we got to the US Supreme 
Court we focused on one:  The argument that collecting and testing the 
women's urine, know it would be turned over to the police constituted a 
violation of the Fourth Amendment -- prohibiting unreasonable searches and 
seizures.  This year the US Supreme Court agreed, concluding that state 
hospital employees may not -

Lynn Paltrow: Of the 30 women arrested under the policy 29 were African 
American.  Only one white patient was arrested.  The nurse wrote in that 
patient's record:  "patient lives with her boyfriend who is a negro."

Lynn Paltrow: And yet -- we lost in the lower courts on the race 
discrimination claims.

Dean_Becker: I asked if the "crack baby" syndrome is for real or not?

Matt: What about self-incrimination Lynn?  Does it matter if it comes from 
your mouth or your bladder?

Lynn Paltrow: That is a good question.  In the Ferguson case the Supreme 
Court held that in the hospital context you had to give essentially a 
Miranda type warning before you could get a real consent to a search of 
someone's urine for criminal investigative purposes.

FatFreddy: Why does Marijuana work in a lot of cases of morning sickness?

Lynn Paltrow: Another good question.  I am not an expert on this -- but it 
does seem logical that if marijuana is effective in helping people eat -- 
it would be a useful medication for morning sickness.  I recently got an 
e-mail from a PhD. Candidate doing her thesis on this question.

observer: Lynn, Dr. Ira Chasnoff, a Chicago pediatrician and expert on 
drug-exposed babies said that "The perspective in Illinois is that it is us 
versus them . . . The 'them' is lower-class minority women.  So we just 
throw the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services at them. . . 
. It is very biased . . .The key in selection [for punishment] is race and 
social class."    Have you found that to be true in your experience also?

Dean_Becker: I asked if the "crack baby" syndrome is for real or not?

Lynn Paltrow: Back to the child welfare question.  Dorothy Roberts has 
written quite eloquently about how child welfare -- especially with regard 
to allegations of parental drug use -- as a mechanism for social control 
rather than child protection.

Lynn Paltrow: As for Crack Babies -- John Morgan and Lynn Zimmer said it 
best: Like Max Headroom and citing of Elvis they are media creations. -- or 
something like that.  Significant research has indicated that crack is not 
good to use during pregnancy -- but that to the extent it causes harm -- 
those harms are similar to those associated with cigarette smoking.

Matt: What do you think of C.R.A.C.K. Lynn?  The outfit that pays women to 
use birth control or become sterilized?

Lynn_Paltrow: In Short it is extremely dangerous and 
counterproductive.  They spread dangerous misinformation and prejudice 
against people who use drugs or who have ever used drugs suggesting they 
are not worthy of reproducing the human race.

Lynn_Paltrow: WE have an op-ed piece about C.R.A.C.K. on our web cite:

Matt: Eugenics.  Smacks of Emily Murphy.  Yeah, I know about the oped, I'm 
your webmaster :-)

Lynn Paltrow: Research has not found support for initial dire 
predictions.  They are not finding IQ damage or significant evidence of 
other neurological damage.  I refer people to the March issue of the 
Journal of the American Medical Association for the lead article by Dr. 
Deborah Frank.

Matt: To what extent is cannabis an issue for you Lynn?

Matt: I was wondering if the authorities are pursuing women who use 
cannabis during pregnancy as much as they are those who use cocaine

Dean_Becker: Does the use of cannabis by a pregnant mother hurt the child?

Lynn Paltrow: From what I can tell -- the criminal cases are more focused 
on cocaine -- but there are so many reports of civil child "protection" 
actions against women who are believed to have used marijuana that I think 
it is a very serious issue.

observer: Lynn, Hitting on (the topic of) cannabis again, have you found 
instances where "saving the baby from crack," turned out to mean 
persecuting mothers for using cannabis, instead?

Lynn Paltrow: The DC City Council is considering two bill this Thursday -- 
one would treat a single positive drug test on mother or newborn as a basis 
for presuming neglect and removing the child from the mother's 
custody.  This would include a positive for cannabis.

Dean_Becker: Lynn, from what you have stated, the discrimination against 
pregnant mothers who use drugs is basically as racial as the rest of the 
drug laws, correct?

Lynn Paltrow: Any of you from DC should call the mayor and city council and 
oppose this bill as bad for children and parents.

Lynn Paltrow: On the race question: These actions do seem to be like the 
other drug war applications -- applied way disproportionately to people of 
color -- but not also affecting white women as well.

observer:  Lynn, Dr. Ira Chasnoff, a Chicago pediatrician and expert on 
drug-exposed babies said that "The perspective in Illinois is that it is us 
versus them . . . The 'them' is lower-class minority women. So we just 
throw the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services at them. . . 
. It is very biased . . .The key in selection [for punishment] is race and 
social class."    Have you found that to be true in your experience also, 
Lynn ?

Lynn Paltrow: I answered the Chasnoff question earlier -- but to reiterate 
- -- as Dorothy Roberts writes -- child welfare is far too often used as a 
mechanism of social control rather than one that really protects children.

Dean_Becker: I have often heard that heavy drinking or even heavy cigarette 
smoking can be very detrimental to the child in the womb, is this once 
again a  case of pick and choose?

Lynn Paltrow: Basically yes.  There have been some arrests (though no 
convictions yet) of women who drank during pregnancy.

Trippin: lynn...thanks for being here...who do we have to hold accountable 
for the start of this discriminatory injustice?

Lynn Paltrow: Charles Coindon has been fairly explicit in acknowledging the 
political selectivity of prosecution -- he says there is just not the 
"political will" beyond illegal drugs.  I suspect it has to do as well with 
political contributions . . .

Lynn Paltrow: The start of discriminatory injustice . . .that is a big 
philosophical question.  It has been around for a long time -- it does seem 
that humans are somehow wired to divide people into groups -- good and bad, 
safe and dangerous -- and it plays out in every age in history.  We have a 
lot of human evolving to do to overcome that tendency.

Lynn Paltrow: Of course discrimination also serves political purposes -- 
keeping some in power, ensuring comfort and wealth for some.

gee: what  do we  need to do in court  Lynn? To protect our women ?

gee: Lynn what do we  as  civilians do to  protect our wives, daughters, 
friends  from this type assault in the  hospital? More law suits? Pre-lawsuits?

Lynn Paltrow: WE need a long-term strategy in court, in the legislatures 
and on the streets to establish women's personhood.  While the anti choice 
fetal personhood debate rages -- we forget that women are not yet full 
persons/citizens under the law.  As long as it ok to discriminate on the 
basis of pregnancy -- women will not be equal under the law. Achieving 
equality also depends on ending other forms of discrimination -- race, 
disability since humans general

Lynn Paltrow: As for women in hospitals -- lawsuits are good -- but we also 
need to find out what local hospital policy is -- work to educate the 
people who make those policies.

Lynn Paltrow: For example -- if they report women who test for marijuana or 
methadone -- ask them what they base that on.

Lynn Paltrow: Educate women not to sign consent forms that permit urine or 
blood screening if they do not want it.

gee: thanks  lynn, I have  both the  best and  worst , In one state no 
testing  , they simply care about  patients. In winter home-state they 
want  bucks and  test  all women who are not cash customers.

Lynn Paltrow: Which states?

gee: Iowa, No regular  testing any where but  Des Moines I know of. Texas 
every hospital I have  been in, seems to do drug testing.

Lynn Paltrow: Thanks for the information.  Texas has a terrible law 
creating presumptive neglect -- though testing is not mandated as far as I 
know.  WE really have to remember that front line health people have never 
been educated about the war on drugs -- they are as influenced by drug war 
propaganda as the general public.

Trippin: you think that women who are users and have their 
children behind bars be allowed to have their children back when they get out?

Lynn Paltrow: Trippin -- first we have to ask whether the women should be 
behind bars in the first place . . .

Lynn Paltrow: Child welfare policy in this country is usually based on the 
question of what is in the best interest of the child.  The best bet, it 
seems to me, it to keep parents and children together as much as 
possible.  A few model prison programs allow this -- but it is so hard to 
gauge when we now have so many people behind bars who should not be there 
in the first place.


BigBong: though, after a couple of hundred years the prison can be remade 
into a garden

BigBong: ;O)--~


gee: I teach as many in texas as  I can.

Dean_Becker: Do you have offices around the country, any way we can help in 
our local area?

Lynn Paltrow: Dean -- we are starting out small and love Texas for its many 
smart and talented drug policy activists.  We would be interested in 
finding people who have civil child welfare cases based on drug use during 
pregnancy -- for possible challenges.  Also -- reaching out to hospital 
staff, local child protection people for your educational work is really 

Lynn Paltrow: Child welfare workers and front line drug treatment people 
also feel like failures because of the abstinence only standards.  When 
they hear about harm reduction concepts -- they feel better too -- finally 
being able to think that a relapse or ongoing use does not necessarily mean 
that they failed.

Dean_Becker: quite valid point Lynn, I think from what Scott Imler told us 
last nite, even the DEA gets the blues over bust MMJ sites, honesty will 
help win the day.

Lynn Paltrow: My closing statement?  I spoke this morning to a group of 
activists from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action 
League.  I told them they were good allies out there in the drug policy 
reform movement -- and share with you that reproductive rights activists 
can be good allies to you all as well!

BigBong: hemp hemp hooray

gee: grass roots  works. Glad to  know we  feel the same way.

Dean_Becker: All battle lines on human rights seem to be closing in 
together.  Thank you Lynn, see you tommorow on the NY Times Forum.

BigBong: chaotic utopian anarchy ;O)--~
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D