My latest for RH Reality Check has been published. This case has me monumentally pissed off:
[read full post at RH Reality Check]
I have grown to hate the term because it is used so frequently that it doesn’t mean anything anymore. Still, there are few alternative phrases that accurately describe the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision in the consolidated cases of Amanda Kimbrough and Hope Ankrom. Amanda and Hope are two women who were swept up in the Alabama judiciary’s zeal to promote an anti-choice personhood agenda at the expense of pregnant women, by redefining the word “child” in Alabama’s chemical endangerment statute, so that it now applies to pregnant women who use any amount of controlled substances, whether prescribed by a doctor or not.
In the cases of Amanda and Hope, the drugs were not prescribed by a doctor. Both women ingested illicit drugs during their pregnancies (meth in Amanda’s case, and cocaine in Hope’s case) and were prosecuted for it. But the two women were prosecuted for behavior that was not intended to be criminalized when the Legislature enacted the chemical-endangerment statute in 2006, and that is where the egregious injustice lies.
The statute was enacted to protect children from injury resulting from exposure to toxic chemicals used to produce methamphetamines, not to punish drug-dependent women for choosing to carry their pregnancies to term despite their drug dependencies. In fact, the chemical-endangerment statute was not intended to address the behavior of pregnant women at all.