Through a variety of mechanisms, women who want to have a vaginal birth after a previous cesarean section ("VBAC") are finding that this option is foreclosed, and their ability to exercise their right to informed medical decision-making limited or denied altogether.
As is often the situation in precedent setting new cases, prosecutors chose as their test case one in which there would be little sympathy or support for the woman they targeted. In this case they picked Regina McKnight, an indigent African-American woman with numerous health problems, a limited education, and a drug problem that began after her mother was killed in a hit and run accident.
It is safe to say that South Carolina has imposed the most punitive policies toward pregnant drug using women of any state. On October 27, 1997, in a case called Whitner v. State, the South Carolina Supreme Court declared that viable fetuses are "children.
Court Rules New York State Child Endangering Law May Not Be Used To Punish Pregnant Woman for Health Problems: Charges Against Stacey Gilligan Dismissed
For Immediate Release:
April 9, 2004
NEW YORK—A Warren County, New York, judge yesterday dismissed charges against a woman arrested on two counts of child endangering based on allegations that she consumed alcohol in her 35th week of pregnancy.
September 27, 2001
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Compiled by Drug Policy Alliance. Sept 27, 2000.
By: Sheigla Murphy and Paloma Sales
In this paper we present analyses of two National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded studies entitled, "An Ethnographic Study of Pregnancy and Drug Use" (Rosenbaum and Murphy 1991-94) and "An Ethnography of Victimization, Pregnancy and Drug Use," (Murphy 1995-98). Our goal is to explicate the ways in which pregnant drug users in the San Francisco Bay Area experienced, coped with and protected themselves from increasing stigmatization, abuse and punishment while enduring a period of fiscal retrenchment of government assistance programs.