Should a pregnant woman whose behavior has been deemed dangerous to her fetus be legally punished or forced into medical procedures against her will? A study found hundreds of cases across the country where pregnant women were arrested and incarcerated, detained in mental institutions and drug treatment programs, or subject to forced medical interventions, including surgery.
The study, conducted by the group, found 413 criminal and civil cases where law enforcement intervened in the lives of pregnant women between 1973 — the year the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade — and 2005.
Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross speaks with the group’s executive director, Lynn Paltrow, who says the legal claims used to justify some of these actions rely on the same arguments that are made in support of personhood measures that would grant the fetus full constitutional rights independent of the pregnant woman. Gross also speaks with Jennifer Mason of , a leader in the personhood movement.
And she speaks with Dr. Barbara Levy, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ vice president for health policy, about related medical issues.
Paltrow & Flavin, “Arrests of and forced interventions on pregnant women in the United States (1973-2005): The implications for women’s legal status and public health,” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law
National Advocates for Pregnant Women’s one-of-a-kind study identifies hundreds of criminal and civil cases involving the arrests, detentions and equivalent deprivations of pregnant women’s physical liberty that occurred between 1973 and 2005, after the decision in Roe v. Wade was issued. The findings make clear that if so called “personhood” measures are enacted, not only will more women who have abortions be arrested, such measures would create the legal basis for depriving all pregnant women of their status as full persons under the law.