In a joint submission the International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD), International Network of Women who Use Drugs (INWUD), the Women and Harm Reduction International Network (WHRIN), National Advocates for Pregnant Women (U.S.A.) (NAPW), SisterReach, the Sexual Rights Initiative, Family Law & Cannabis Alliance (U.S.A.) (FLCA), and Native Youth Sexual Health Network, have produced this report which focuses on the United States of America’s failure to address and curtail the growing body of counterproductive and regressive state laws, policies, and practices that are increasingly being used to substantially undermine women’s dignity and status as persons under the law.
Based on a devastating combination of ideological prejudice and misinformation, prosecutors, courts, and legislators across the United States are overtly discriminating against many of society’s most traumatized and marginalized pregnant women. This is manifested in the reinterpretation of existing laws and the creation of new laws to punish pregnant women for the circumstances or outcomes of their pregnancies.
The arrest and incarceration of pregnant women and new mothers, coupled with interventions by child welfare authorities not only deprive women of their fundamental rights, but also threaten maternal, fetal and child health across the United States. The effect of these policies is most devastating to women who are marginalized by race, socioeconomic status, and use of prescribed or illicit drugs.