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Drug use during pregnancy: Drugs and Pregnancy?

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If you have not already done so, it’s a good idea to read the introduction to this discussion first.

Nicole Zolty started this conversation on May 6, 2008 4:36 PM (CC-BY-SA-3.0-US Licensed; read more info):

I do think a mother has an ethical obligation to avoid drug use during pregnancy. That said I should also state that I am completely pro-choice. I feel it should be a woman’s decision whether or not she plans to carry a pregnancy to term or if she plans to terminate it. However I strongly feel that if she decides to carry the pregnancy to term she DOES have a responsibility to offer that child the best start possible. Choosing to do drugs is clearly wrong in my eyes.

Punishment is a tricky question. How would that be enforced? Mandatory drug testing of all pregnant woman? I feel that the government already is a bit too much in our personal business, and that having to submit to drug testing simply because I am pregnant would be a HUGE violation of my rights. If mandatory testing were to become a reality I think we would see a rise in the numbers of woman who choose to use midwives and plan home births.

Furthermore, punishment in my opinion would make woman who were struggling with drug addiction even less likely to seek help for fear of repercussions.
I do understand how many feel that punishment would lower the amount of woman who choose to abuse drugs during their pregnancies, but honestly I don’t think the threat of punishment would stop anyone. The threat of punishment generally makes people just work harder at hiding things so they do not face the consequences.

More education and support groups might help. I assume most mothers who are struggling with a drug addiction during a pregnancy feel a sense of shame, so maybe support groups that offer the woman the option to remain anonymous would be helpful.

Hope I have not offended any with my thoughts.

Shannon Compston replied to Nicole on May 7, 2008 9:23 PM (CC-BY-SA-3.0-US Licensed; read more info):

I completely agree with you. I too am pro-choice and if a woman is going to get pregnant then she needs to be responsible. I agree in that mandatory testing would be to hard to control and a bight over bearing by the government. People would just try harder to hide their drug addiction and find ways around the tests. I think that more education for pregnant mothers who are using would be a great idea. I don’t think that it would stop the problem but I do think that it might help. Support groups would also be a good idea. I think that you are right in that mothers who are using probably feel ashamed and embarrassed so maybe a support group would help them.

I replied to Nicole on May 8, 2008 2:07 AM:

Is it permitted to be a liberal pro-choicer and a conservative taking a stand against drug use during pregnancy? Of course it is! That is one of the wonderful thing about human intellect (when people choose to use it): we can see issues separately from all the rhetoric. 🙂

Like you, I feel that a woman’s health issues are her own to make, but once the decision is made to keep the baby, a mother has an obligation to do her best for the child-to-be. She may decide to give the child up for adoption after birth, but she needs to be a mother for the child while it’s inside her.

I also agree that the threat of punishment would not help to reduce the incidence of drug use among mothers. It would, instead, drive them into hiding. Where would be the incentive for a mother to have regular prenatal checkups if every one was a chance for her to be punished?

And how exactly would that work? She tests positive for a drug and is taken to jail—pregnant? How exactly is a prison environment good for a developing fetus? And what happens while the mother is going through mandatory detox? While drugs aren’t good for fetuses, I don’t think that a mother going through detox symptoms is a joyride, either.

No. The change has to happen before the pregnancy. That’s why we have existing drug laws on the books (and we see how ineffective those are). Once the pregnancy is underway, the mother needs to feel safe around the people who will ultimately, hopefully saver her addicted newborn’s life. And maybe, just maybe, she will meet the right nurse or doctor who can help her get sober in time to make a change for the better in the baby’s life. That would be much less likely to happen if she was afraid to see a doctor because of fear of punishment.

Great post, Nicole!



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Murray, Will (or another student’s name). “Drug use during pregnancy: Drugs and Pregnancy?”. Furth and Fortune blog by Will Murray. May 6, 2008. Retrieved .

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