Pregnant Drug Users Essay

This essay has a total of 1997 words and 9 pages.

Pregnant Drug Users



SHOULD PREGNANT DRUG USERS
BE PROSECUTED?



Many of us are use to hearing about the “War on Drugs” or Mothers Against Drunk Drivers
(MADD), but not every day we hear about groups trying to stop mothers from killing their
unborn child. The method that these mothers are using to kill or permanently hurt their
unborn child is by using drugs during their pregnancy. Should these women go to jail for
murdering or should they get help and pretend that nothing happened? Like every situation
in our life, we must do what is right, and we must fight for what we know is right.

Paul A. Logli, a prosecutor for the state of Illinois argues that it is the government’s
duty to enforce health of unborn fetuses, and that the mothers of these victims should be
prosecuted. One of his views is that drugs are addictive and that legal and illegal
drugs harm not only the unborn child but the mother as well. Some times these types of
drugs won’t kill the fetus but it will affect him/her for remainder of their life (Logli,
84).

A 1988 survey of hospitals showed that as many as 375,000 infants may be affected by
maternal cocaine use during their pregnancy each year. More recently a study at a
hospital in Detroit showed that 42.7 percent of its newborn babies were exposed to drugs
while in their mothers’ wombs. Many of these kids show a mild autistic personality
disorder at young ages. Another problem due to this selfish act is the cost of pain and
suffering from all the consequences that this problem brings upon the victims. The
typical intensive care costs from $7,500 to $31,000, and in some cases we have seen it up
to $150,000 (Logli, 86)

Cocaine is one of the drugs most dangerous to unborn babies. Over the past ten years,
there has been a dramatic increase in the number of pregnant women who use cocaine and
consequently, an alarming rise in the number of babies born affected by the drug. The
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that more than 50,000, and perhaps
as many as 375,000, cocaine-exposed babies are born each year in the United States.
Cocaine can affect a pregnant woman and her unborn baby in many ways. During the early
months of pregnancy, it can cause a miscarriage. When the drug is used late in pregnancy,
it may trigger premature labor. It also may cause an unborn baby to die or to have a
stroke, which can result in irreversible brain damage (Cocaine Use During Pregnancy).

Some babies exposed to cocaine before birth have brain damage. A number of studies have
found that cocaine-exposed babies tend to score poorly on tests given at birth to assess
the newborn's physical condition and overall responsiveness. They do not do as well as
unexposed babies on measures of motor ability and reflexes. They also experience lack of
attention and mood swings, they appear less likely to respond to a human face or voice
(Dr. Israel).

On February 4, 1989 Bianca Green and her mother Melanie, tested positive for cocaine. The
tragedy of this story was that only one person survived. Bianca was pronounced dead two
days after she was born. Pathologists concluded that the cause of Bianca’s death was the
result of prenatal injury to the fetus at an early stage of pregnancy. Prosecutors
allowed a criminal complaint to be filled on May 9, 1989, charging Melanie with
Involuntary Manslaughter and delivery of controlled substance. Unfortunately Melanie was
not convicted of either crime (Logli, 87).

We are glad to see that Jennifer Johnson did not have the same outcome that Melanie Green
had. Jennifer Johnson was convicted for Delivery of Controlled Substance to a Child and
was sentenced to 15 years of probation including strict supervision. The judge made his
determination after he heard the Assistant State’s Attorney point out that Mrs. Johnson
had previously given birth to three other cocaine affected babies, and was previously
arrested at a crack-house (Logli, 88).

Why does one have to wait for the same crime to repeat itself three or four times?
Personally I find this a little bit invalid. It is difficult to see this problem one
time, but three and four times just doesn’t do it. A professional should evaluate a
person who uses drugs during their pregnancy, and if she is able to reduce her drug intake
to a maximum level, then she should be evaluated at least once a month there after. If
she is not capable of reducing her intake she should get medical assistance.

Sue Mahan argues that the majority of times, these women who abuse drugs during their
pregnancy are typically poor women and minorities. Another view illustrates, it is better
to have a mother who is at least trying, than not to have a mother, or a mother who is
“locked up.” Today pregnant women can get charged for many different things. “Laws
designed to control women who use drugs during their pregnancy can be classified into
three types: Narcotic Laws, Criminalization Laws, and Informant Laws. All three types of
law focus on punishing a mother for drug use so that the fetus will be protected.”
(Mahan, 93).

Dr. Israel, a long time friend and the pediatrician of my daughters answered a few
questions that I presented. He touched bases on the fact that drug users are not all the
time under the abuse of drugs, and that babies will go through a withdrawal stage and it
usually takes from one to two weeks. He said that many of these infants would behave
better with their mothers than with another family member. A quote from a document from
the internet reiterated: “The studies, ‘part of a long-range tracking of crack babies,’
found that ‘those children aren't more prone to birth defects, and they develop better
with their natural mothers -- who used drugs while pregnant -- than they develop with
other relatives or in foster homes.” (“Pregnancy and Drug Use”).
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