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Pregnant, Addicted, and at Risk For Incarceration in SC

Pregnant and high, 37-year-old Sandria Doremus entered a treatment facility in Greenville, SC, with the hopes that she could get off drugs and properly care for her baby. Her other motivation? She wanted to avoid being incarcerated after she gave birth.

It could easily have happened to her. A hospital reported her drug use to the police — as required by law.

Although this practice has abated, since 1989, at least 126 women in South Carolina have been arrested and charged with harming their fetuses by abusing drug and alcohol, according to the National Advocates For Pregnant Women. Only about 80 pregnant women around the country were arrested on similar charges in the same time period. Although local and state agencies across the country have attempted to prosecute pregnant women for drug use, their cases are usually rejected by the courts.

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Although many women say that they're glad they had a chance to clean up and be sober mothers, some women admit that their fear of being arrested kept them from getting treatment earlier.

"These are addicts who become pregnant," says Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the National Advocates For Pregnant Women. "They aren't women who chose to use drugs after becoming pregnant."

What do you think about criminalizing addicted women who get pregnant?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
Chouette4u Chouette4u 7 years
For one, most doctors do not recommend drinking any alcohol during pregnancy. Regardless, what about a woman who drinks EXCESSIVELY during her pregnancy?
Chouette4u Chouette4u 7 years
"Umm, Anonymous--drugs are illegal anyway." What about alcohol?
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
they must turn her in, for the babies sake. That way they can monitor the mother for drug use, monitor the babies health, and if the child is born addicted, make sure it gets the proper care.
janneth janneth 7 years
These babies are affected for their entire lives.
soapbox soapbox 7 years
^^ I agree, this is a tough subject and I'm split on this. It's hard to break away from an addiction, especially from the hard stuff. And though finding out that you're pregnant may seem like enough motivation to break the addiction, it obviously doesn't always work that way. I hate to say it, but I think criminalizing addicted pregnant women is a good idea. I mean, forget about the mother, what about the baby inside of her? The baby would have a slim chance if the mother continues with the addiction. However, I always think of addiction as an illness. The law would be more effective if it required pregnant women who cannot control their addiction to stay in rehabilitation for the full duration of their pregnancy.
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