“Criminalizing Pregnancy: Policing Pregnant Women Who Use Drugs in the USA” (Amnesty International)

December 19, 2018

Pregnancy Justice’s work is highlighted in this important Amnesty International report. Click here to access Amnesty International’s report: "Criminalizing Pregnancy: Policing Pregnant Women Who Use Drugs in the USA".

Over the course of three years, Amnesty International analyzed US criminal prosecutions of women who are pregnant and alleged to use drugs. These cases are based on claims of promoting maternal and infant health, but in fact are about arresting and punishing women who are pregnant and use drugs. These "pregnancy criminalization" prosecutions violate women's human rights.

Pregnancy Justice is actively involved in ongoing court challenges to punitive reproductive health and drug policies and provides litigation support in cases across the country. Pregnancy Justice assisted or served as co-counsel on many of the court cases highlighted in the report. Over a three year process, Pregnancy Justice worked closely with Amnesty International to help inform and shape the report.

"Criminalizing Pregnancy: Policing Pregnant Women Who Use Drugs in the USA, is a clear overview of some of Pregnancy Justice's key work," says Lynn M. Paltrow, Executive Director, Pregnancy Justice. "As quoted in the report, these laws take away from a pregnant woman virtually every right associated with constitutional personhood, from the most basic right to physical liberty to the right to refuse bad medical advice." She continues: "Pregnancy Justice appreciates this vital report concluding that the US is in violation of international legal obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of pregnant women. Pregnancy Justice will continue to fight to secure the human and civil rights of all people who have the capacity to become pregnant."

This important Amnesty International report is consistent with Pregnancy Justice's Women's Declaration calling for the end of punitive policies that violate the rights of women, children, and families. Pregnancy Justice drafted the Declaration and coordinated more than 145 national and international organizations from every inhabited continent to sign on, in conjunction with the April 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drug policies.