Disturbing news today–The Sand Mountain Reporter is reporting that the Marshall County Assistant DA and the local legislative delegation are dropping a bill to up the ante on prosecuting women who use substances while pregnant by expanding the definition of the word child to include a fetus.
Needless to say this is exactly why AWRN has been tackling these senseless prosecutions. It is scary (SCARY) to think that D.A.s and judges now get to make medical decisions for all of us with no medical training whatsoever. The debate over fetus and child is a red herring to divide us on the true issue which is what is best for women, pregnancies, and babies. The answer is always going to be treatment over jail, prison, financial punishment, etc. There is absolutely no way someone can make a legitimate (or logical) statement that expanding the possibility of prosecuting pregnant women and new mothers is good, nor that some expansion magically makes treatment available.
Do not let this piece of legislation coopt terminology from the abortion debate and apply it to a situation many women find themselves in that does not inherently have an abortion element to it; rather, many women are struggling to overcome substance use and be mothers. This is only done to divide us and politicize a public health and maternal issue that can be solved completely outside of entering yet another debate on the definition of a child. Simply put, women need greater and expanded access to treatment and their pregnancies also deserve to be spared the destruction of incarceration. AWRN has actually worked with women in this situation unlike those who villanize women from afar from not being able to overcome what is a disease by themselves. All of the women charged under this law are very young. These prosecutions are wrong and to think that someone is seeking an expansion of prosecutions is not just unconscionable it is an expression of complete carelessness and disregard for babies, for pregnancies, and for women. Period.
Shame on Marshall County legislators and the DA office for thinking so very little of women, of pregnancies, and of babies.
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