succumbing to peer pressure

Monday, January 22, 2007

NAPW summit Day One revisited

I forgot one of my best pages of notes! During "How Might You Be Prosecuted" Jill Morrison presented some of the legal bases for various case against pregnant women, as well as some of the legal protections that exist but are frequently not enforced. She mentioned a Supreme Court Case (Robinson v. California, 1962) in which the court found that "punishing addition is the equivalent of punishing an illness, and being ill is not a crime." Which reminded me of something one of the women said on Thursday - in telling of her experience with addiction she said she'd been told all along that it was a disease and nothing to be ashamed of and just something she needed to deal with. After working in the field and being exposed to a more diverse community of addicts she slowly realized that pretty white girls have a disease. Other people, people of color or poor people, have other problems, but not a disease. Not something that deserves treatment, but rather, something that deserves punishment.

But back to Morrison's point. So being an addict isn't a crime. And being pregnant isn't a crime. And yet, in many states, attempts are made to pass laws and bring convictions that imply that being pregnant and an addict is a crime. Which is a violation of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution since that would indicate that pregnant women do not have the same rights as everyone else!

Additionally, McFall v. Shimp (1978) established that you have a right to refuse to help others, even if such refusal means they will die. And you have the right to refuse treatment for yourself, even if doing so means you will die (Mons v. Public Health Trust of Dade County, 1989). And again, being pregnant is not a crime. But being pregnant and refusing medical treatment (such as, say, a c-section) is a crime! Once again, violating the 14th Amendment.


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