June 23, 2022
As we await the anticipated fall of Roe and the subsequent loss of the constitutionally protected right to abortion, Pregnancy Justice today launched a first-of-its-kind, multidisciplinary guide to arm professionals with the tools and resources to reject the criminalization of pregnant people and their pregnancy outcomes — Confronting Pregnancy Criminalization: A Practical Guide for Healthcare Providers, Lawyers, Medical Examiners, Child Welfare Workers, and Policymakers.
The prosecution of women and pregnant people through the criminalization of pregnancy will only increase with the reversal of Roe. Pregnancy criminalization has more than tripled across the country in recent years to include more than 1,300 cases from 2006 through 2020, according to Pregnancy Justice data. This is in addition to 413 cases Pregnancy Justice documented from the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling through 2005. Altogether, this represents more than 1,700 cases of arrests, prosecutions, detentions, or forced medical interventions like cesarean surgeries carried out against pregnant people. These cases include actions taken against women who have experienced stillbirths or miscarriages, had abortions, or have given give birth to healthy babies.
“People don’t have an abortion, lose a pregnancy, or give birth and that information is magically transmitted by telepathy to law enforcement. Criminalization starts where we least expect it: behind a health provider’s closed doors or through another trusted figure. And decisions made along the way by police and prosecutors, medical examiners, and criminal defense lawyers contribute to the devastating consequences of pregnancy criminalization. They all need to understand their role in the criminalization of pregnancy and how to reject it. This guide is the first to target these professions in a holistic way with practical tactics and clear information. This crisis demands an all-hands-on-deck response, and to do anything less ignores the scale of the problem and leaves us ill-prepared for the fight ahead without Roe,” said Pregnancy Justice Acting Executive Director Dana Sussman.
The Confronting Pregnancy Criminalization guide can be used in its complete form, but it is also designed for professionals in each discipline to take exactly what they need to use in their everyday work. The guide contains information about pregnancy loss and accurate scientific information with respect to pregnancy and substance use; how to aggressively pursue early bail to limit pressure clients might feel to accept a plea; understanding the role of discrimination and bias in the reporting of parents; understanding how the erroneous reporting of patients harms families; how to challenge unreliable forensic tactics; and how policymakers can reject fetal personhood measures and use their positions to influence others in the system.
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