Fusion investigative reporter Alissa Figueroa recently published a story about two mothers losing their kids due to their marijuana use. After talking to Figueroa, we decided to do a deeper dive on a related story, about Alabama’s “Chemical Endangerment” law. Enacted in 2006 with the intent of protecting children from meth labs, the law has morphed into a statute that allows the state to prosecute and jail women who give birth to children who test positive for illegal drugs. Thus far, 130 pregnant women have been incarcerated under this law, and 26 of them were incarcerated after testing positive only for marijuana. We interviewed Lynn Paltrow, the Executive Director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, who explained that these laws hinge upon establishing fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses as people with legal rights.
Credit: Alissa Figueroa