Confronting Pregnancy Criminalization: A Practical Guide for Healthcare Providers, Lawyers, Medical Examiners, Child Welfare Workers, and Policymakers

For decades, pregnant people across America have been subjected to criminalization and deprivations of liberty on the basis of pregnancy or pregnancy outcomes. Women have been targeted by police and prosecutors, healthcare providers, child welfare workers, and judges who have sought to deprive them of their constitutional rights in the name of "fetal personhood." Confronting Pregnancy Criminalization: A Practical Guide for Healthcare Providers, Lawyers, Medical Examiners, Child Welfare Workers, and Policymakers arms professionals with the tools to end this criminalization.

Since the 1973 Roe ruling through 2020, NAPW has documented more than 1,700 instances across the country in which women have been arrested, prosecuted, convicted, detained, or forced to undergo medical interventions because of their pregnancy status or outcomes. And NAPW has documented more than three times as many cases from 2006 through 2020 compared to 1973 through 2005. Without the protections granted by Roe v. Wade, which was never enough, this criminalization will only increase.

The women subjected to pregnancy-based actions are overwhelmingly low-income and disproportionately Black and Brown. Pregnant or postpartum women have faced criminal charges for experiencing miscarriages and stillbirths, having abortions, or for having a healthy birth after engaging in behavior perceived as endangering their pregnancies. Pregnant people of color who use drugs are disproportionately impacted, despite the fact that Black and white pregnant women use drugs at approximately the same rate in the U.S.

The more power states have to pursue these types of cases, the more dire the situation will become. This guide is designed to educate and provide practical tools for law enforcement, defense attorneys, child welfare workers, healthcare providers, medical examiners, and legislators to stop the criminalization of pregnancy.

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