It is extremely beneficial for any pregnant woman to lead a healthy life particularly free from the use of drugs. A pregnant woman needs to feed on plenty of nourishing food, get enough rest, and participate in physical exercise daily. It is hugely serious therefore, that she keeps a distance from anything that may cause harm to her or her unborn child. Thus, it is better for her to give up the use of harmful drugs such as alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, and cocaine. Drug abuse for any pregnant woman is doubly dangerous.
This is because drugs may interfere with her ability to provide support to the unborn baby by harming her own health. Drugs may also impair prenatal development directly. Research shows that all illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin are truly harmful to a pregnant woman. Even medical drugs that are prescribed over the counter can also cause harm. Therefore, it is advisable that these drugs should be avoided at all cost once a woman learns that she is pregnant or plans to become pregnant.
Pregnant women have been prosecuted for the past years for using drugs while pregnant. The prosecution is usually done under child abuse or drug trafficking statutes. The pregnant women are in most cases prosecuted even when the child does not show any signs of harm. There is no single person who requires a pregnant woman to use drugs because we want to provide protection to the unborn baby from in uterus drug exposure. However, there are many cases with this issue such as equal protection issues, statutory interpretation issues, and status crime issues.
According to research, a number of pregnant women have been prosecuted for using drugs. At least 8 out of 10 women have been prosecuted during the last two years for using drugs while pregnant. The arrested women are normally brought to county jails, state prisons or better still to drug rehabilitation centers. According to the medical experts, a child being born dead because of abuse of drugs raises an alarm. This is because when drugs are introduced into the woman’s womb, the unborn child is at a great risk. Therefore, the main reason of the law in the case of the expectant women is to ensure that the unborn baby has a safe and a healthy environment, an environment that is free from drugs (Sheigla, 1999).
A pregnant woman can be taken to jail if the police suspects or know that her abuse of drugs such as alcohol may be harmful to the unborn child. Such women in most cases may be confined in rehabilitation centers for up to nine months as they receive treatment. Many states have established laws that focus on women for any actions followed during pregnancy. The whole issue began as legislations that required the nurses to report a pregnant woman for using cocaine. It has however, been expanded to laws that give punishment to woman for using alcohol that may be harmful to the fetus they are carrying.
During previous years, unborn child had no rights under common law, but recently, a big number of states have enacted laws to offer protection to any potential human life. The recent statutes range from prosecution for the attempted murder against pregnant women who continue to use illegal drugs or alcohol to forced confinement and termination of parental rights. For instance, in Wisconsin, juvenile courts have the authority to take protective custody of the unborn child, and an expectant woman may be forced to face the criminal and civil sanctions for the fetus. Some courts have even taken an extra time to allow children to sue their own mothers for prenatal injuries.
Imprisoning a woman for drug abuse may not change the damages already caused to the unborn baby. For instance, in the case of alcohol abuse, the harm may take place during the first two-to-eight-week after conception, when many women are not aware they are pregnant. Therefore, the statutory schemes meant for preventing fetal alcohol syndrome through recognizing pregnant women abusing drugs only helps prevent further damage to the unborn child. Recently, the court has acknowledged that a viable unborn child may be in a position to enjoy protection from unconstitutional sources, and states had the right to explain and protect the rights of potential life where there was prominent legitimate interest.
Drug abuse such as alcohol is terribly dangerous for any pregnant woman particularly in the first, early weeks. Extreme drinking increase the risk of a cluster of birth defects referred to as the fetal alcohol syndrome. Such defects include abnormal facial features, heart defects followed by impeded growth and mental retardation. Smoking causes miscarriages or even early labor and hinders the ability of a pregnant woman to absorb oxygen. This may lead to inadequate nourishment and oxygen leading to slow growth of the fetus.
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Therefore, pregnant woman should be prosecuted because they participate in the taking away of an innocent person`s life. Every life is prestigious whether born or unborn; because life begins at the conception period and it should be given a chance to live like any other person. The concept behind the prosecution of pregnant woman is known as the fetal rights. This demonstrates that the unborn child needs to be given the same legal protections as children. Therefore, any pregnant woman found abusing drugs should be prosecuted and even denied the parental rights. This will assist in the prevention of drug use among expectant women and also protecting the unborn child.