Pregnant Women Are Being Arrested for Crimes They Didn’t Know They Committed
Laurie was five months pregnant when she used methamphetamine. She’d previously been on anxiety medication, but her doctor switched her to an opiate when she told him she had history for drug addiction. She said the opiate made her addiction “a whole lot worse.”
After her son was born, just as she was getting ready to take him home, the 23-year-old found herself handcuffed in front of her family. She was charged with “chemical endangerment,” a law passed in Alabama intended to protect children from environments where they could be exposed to drugs, but has since been interpreted to apply to pregnant women themselves.
At the time of her interview with human rights organization Amnesty International, she was in residential drug treatment. “I’m on drug court for 18 months,” she told researchers. “Will be hopefully getting my son back, but I’m looking at prison time. I still think I should have gotten an opportunity to go into treatment while I was pregnant. I should have been aware of how it was going to play out. I was unaware. I had no idea about this law.”