Is prenatal drug use considered child abuse? This issue stems from the instances in which children are born with withdrawal symptoms due to their mothers’ substance usage during pregnancy. This is the question that our nonprofit partner, Women’s Law Project (WLP), hopes the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will answer.
In the specific case of In re L.J.B., the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been asked to rule on the issue whether, “…by using the illegal drugs, the woman intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused, or created a reasonable likelihood of, bodily injury to a child after birth, under Pennsylvania law.” It is notable that in this specific case, the mother’s actions harmed her fetus and the law does not recognize a fetus as a child, per ruling from a County Common Pleas Court.
WLP stresses the significance of this case as this will set future precedent for what constitutes as “harm” during pregnancy. They fear that many other regulations of women will ensue after this ruling; policing actions such as exercising too much or even traveling to a foreign country. Much is at stake in this case. With these circumstances, women may avoid medical care in fear of civil penalties, such as incarceration. WLP urges the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to avoid penalizing women’s actions during pregnancy as the consequences may only worsen the issue.
Read the full story on how WLP is fighting for the rights of Pennsylvania mothers on Post-Gazette.com.