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Drinks, Drugs, & Pregnant Moms:
A Ticket To Prison

A Montana Prosecutor Wants to Jail
Moms-To-Be Who Drink or Do Drugs

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On January 24th, 2018, the prosecutor’s office in Big Horn County, Montana is cracking down on any expectant mothers who use drugs or drink alcohol. A court attorney is fighting to seek restraining orders against those pregnant women and is encouraging the public to report drug or alcohol incidents to the sheriff department.

The reason behind this movement is to limit child abuse during labor and to make the mother accountable for her actions. According to the article, roughly half of all U.S. states now consider substance abuse during pregnancy to be child abuse. One way it is child abuse is a birth defect called ‘sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).’

On the flip side, if the government intervenes on the well-being of a mother and her baby, it will cause a slippery slope that will jeopardize with the well-being of the mother and the fetus. Another aspect is that a woman will refuse to seek help if they feel they will be reprimanded for their outreach, which causes a discrepancy within the health provider’s field.

When it comes to the aspect of law and justice, many roles are filled by police officers, prosecutors, and judges. Police officers are tasked to patrol certain areas and stop, and or prevent crime from happening. If there is probable cause or reasonable articulable suspicion, the officer has a right to issue a stop and act accordingly per state laws and policies. As for Prosecutors, if a person is charged with a crime, the prosecutor reviews all of the evidence that is presented within a case. Lastly, for the judge evaluates all of the aspects of the case and pleads the defendant guilty or not guilty.


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Questions:

1. Why do you think it is or is not ethical to prosecute expected mothers who use drugs or alcohol?

2. How is the mother hurting the unborn child while using drugs or alcohol?

3. Do you think the judge’s policy will help reduce the number of cases of SIDS in the community, have no impact on the number of cases, or cause an increase in the number of cases, and why do you think the policy will have that effect? 

4. Why do you feel the judge’s plan is the best one for the community, or what better solutions would you recommend and why would you recommend those over the one the judge has come up with?

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/maternity-drug-policies-by-state

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/pregnant-women-big-horn-county-montana_n_5a674bf8e4b0e5630073b88c?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Contributed by – J. Pennington






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