Women's Privacy vs. Safety of Unborn ; High Court Will Decide If Privacy Rights of Pregnant Women Were Violated by a Drug-Testing Policy

By Warren Richey writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 4, 2000 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Women's Privacy vs. Safety of Unborn ; High Court Will Decide If Privacy Rights of Pregnant Women Were Violated by a Drug-Testing Policy


Warren Richey writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


To many people, there is no higher cause in the United States than the protection of children from danger or mistreatment.

But what happens when the child who is facing potential harm is yet to be born, and the alleged abuser is his or her drug-addicted mother?

That's the dilemma that prompted a policy in Charleston, S.C., requiring pregnant women at a public hospital who tested positive for cocaine to undergo treatment or be turned over to police to face prosecution for distributing drugs to a minor.

This morning, the US Supreme Court takes up the case of 10 pregnant women who tested positive for cocaine and who charge that the Charleston policy violated their Fourth Amendment right to privacy as an unreasonable government intrusion into the inner- most aspects of their lives. The case is potentially about much more than just the propriety of testing to prosecute drug addicts in a hospital setting.

On a higher level, it raises the divisive issue of trying to balance the rights of a pregnant woman against the rights of her unborn child.

And it arises at a time when many prosecutors and judges across the country are increasingly willing to prosecute parents, or prospective parents, for conduct that the government views as falling within an expanding realm of child abuse.

Legal analysts warn that if a majority of justices uphold the Charleston policy, it could open the door to similar efforts nationwide, including broader policies permitting prosecution of women who consume alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or perhaps even drink coffee during pregnancy.

"It would mean a radical expansion of government authority to invade the privacy of pregnant women for the supposed benefit of the pregnancy," says Simon Heller of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy in New York, which is arguing the case on behalf of the 10 women. "There is a very short step between saying we are going to allow warrantless searches for drugs [via drug tests] and then saying we are going to allow warrantless searches of the home or the workplace in order to insure that women are following good prenatal care."

Mr. Heller adds, "It would be open season by law enforcement on pregnant women."

Lawyers for the City of Charleston don't see it that way. They say their policy, which ended in 1994 after the federal government threatened to take away part of the hospital's research funding, was aimed at creating a strong incentive for pregnant drug users to get off drugs for the sake of their unborn child.

Their legal brief quotes an official as saying: "What we were trying to do is give those babies a chance to be born normal."

Under South Carolina law, a viable fetus is recognized as a "child," and using cocaine during the third trimester of pregnancy is a form of criminal child neglect.

During the five years the drug test policy was in operation, 253 pregnant women tested positive for cocaine.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Women's Privacy vs. Safety of Unborn ; High Court Will Decide If Privacy Rights of Pregnant Women Were Violated by a Drug-Testing Policy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.