Did you all see the piece in the New York Time Magazine yesterday about women being prosecuted for “chemical endangerment” of a child after their newborns tested positive for drugs? This is a real thing that’s happening in Alabama. Apparently, Alabama has laws on the books to protect kids from living in an environment that contains meth labs – which is a GOOD idea because kids and meth labs should never be in the same place ever, ever, ever – but the definition of “child” has been expanded to include “unborn child” and “environment” has been expanded to include the womb.
I wrote a bit about my conflicted feelings about protecting babies from meth versus a state going all Big Brother on pregnant women at Babble today:
And how does this link in with the growing fetal-personhood movement? Do laws that protect the unborn ultimately detract from the rights of the born? In this case, the mother doesn’t truly have the right to engage in the behavior in question – i.e. illegal drugs – but what about other scenarios? Would a mother who works in agriculture be forced to quit her job if farm chemicals were seen as chemical endangerment while she was pregnant? What about a server in a bar that allows smoking? What about a lab technician or hospital worker who deals with hazardous substances?
Heck, what about the expectant mom who colors her hair, drinks too much coffee, or has some champagne at a wedding? At what point does the idea of “acceptable risk” in pregnancy get taken out of the hands of a woman and her physician and put in the hands of the state?
Most of you all reading here already know that I think the fetal personhood movement is scary-ass shit that could result in a Handmaid’s Tale nation where pregnant women are sequestered in camps where all decisions are made for them for “the good of the baby”. (I wrote about it at length last summer if you want a recap of my thoughts.) So, I’m not feeling any warm fuzzies when the Times tells me that Personhood USA is loving this Alabama statute. If they think it’s a good idea, I tend to think it’s not great for women in the long term.
As I say on Babble, I think we should be looking at WHY so many people in Alabama are using, making and selling meth and solve those problems. Sure, I don’t want women doing meth while pregnant but I don’t what them doing meth or blowing themselves up with meth labs while they;re not pregnant either. Maybe a little focus on education, social supports, and job creation would be just as good for babies as standing guard over pregnant women to make sure they toe the line, hmmmm?