Mother’s Day evokes handmade cards from grade school kids to their moms, flowery cards to new moms, and loving cards for years of devotion to mothers from their adult children. For mothers who grapple with substance use the desire to do right by their children is complicated by the weight of addiction, which can tear families apart.
Making a documentary about a treatment program that helps mothers with substance use disorders keep their children is important to filmmaker, Sheila Ganz. In 1969, Ganz was an unwed mother. She became pregnant as the result of being raped. Her parents wanted her to go into a home for unwed mothers in Boston. Ganz didn’t want to go there. So she got a job, saved her money, bought a car and headed out for Los Angeles. She totaled her car just east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was pinned under the car with a fractured pelvis at five months pregnant. After being in the hospital, she went into a Booth Memorial Home for Unwed Mothers. Ganz was not given a choice and unwillingly relinquished her newborn daughter for adoption. “Losing my daughter felt like an amputation. I lived for the day when I would find her and tell her I love her.” Continue reading →
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 →
National Partnership for Women & Families – Women’s Health Policy Report
April 13, 2015 — The risk of legislation aimed at criminalizing fetal homicide in Colorado and other states is that, “without statutory reform, the pregnant woman as a category of victim will remain overlooked, while the fetus gets special protection,” Deborah Tuerkheimer, a law professor at Northwestern University and former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, writes in a New York Times opinion piece.
According to Tuerkheimer, “[l]egally severing a fetus from the pregnant woman has the effect of pitting her interests against the fetus’s” and can make “women criminally responsible, not only for the life of the fetus, but also for its well-being.” For example, Tuerkheimer notes that fetal rights have been used to prosecute pregnant women — particularly those in “vulnerable and marginalized” populations — “for using drugs, refusing a cesarean section, having sex against a doctor’s recommendation and attempting suicide.” Continue reading →