Cynthia Greenlee, National Advocates for Pregnant Women
Phone: 212-255-9252, ext. 38
NAPW marks 2 legal victories in states that have incarcerated women
based on pregnancy and drug-use claims
Appeal will free Arkansas woman, Wisconsin case moves forward
NEW YORK – On Oct. 8, the Arkansas Supreme Court reversed the conviction of Melissa McCann Arms, who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for introducing a controlled substance into the body of another person when she gave birth in 2013. The Arms v. State of Arkansas victory comes a week after a federal district court ruling that allowed a constitutional challenge to the 1997 Wisconsin “cocaine mom” law to go forward. Together, the cases represent two important and positive rulings that uphold the rights and health of pregnant women.
In its ruling, the Arkansas Supreme Court concluded that the intent of Arkansas’ law was to prevent the drugging of another person through the use of “knock-out drugs” and not to punish women who become pregnant and deliver despite drug use. Continue reading →
Carmelina Pérez, a Honduran woman living in El Salvador, was convicted of aggravated homicide and sentenced to 30 years in prison in July 2014 after suffering what appeared to be a miscarriage in the home where she was employed as a domestic worker. Pérez is not one of “Las 17,” the group of women imprisoned on abortion-related charges and for whom the La Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto (Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion) requested pardons from the Salvadoran government, because her case had not yet gone to trial at the time of their requests. Her story mirrors theirs, however: She, too, had her obstetrical emergency criminalized.
But last week, she was acquitted of all charges after 16 months in prison, setting a possible new precedent in the fight for reproductive justice in El Salvador.
In addition to creating a joyous victory for Pérez, now 21 years old, her trial provides an opportunity to expose and analyze in detail the medical and legal injustices that women frequently face in El Salvador. Continue reading →