Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 23 (2):120-128 (1995)

Martin Perlmutter
College of Charleston
The conflict between pregnant women freely using cocaine and the well-being of fetuses presents a difficult social problem. Since 1985, at least 200 women, in thirty states, have been criminally prosecuted for using illicit drugs or alcohol during pregnancy. Such policies enjoy considerable public and political support. Nonetheless, treatment programs that include referral to law enforcement officials raise serious ethical and legal issues for hospitals and health care providers. In this paper, we assess the development of one medical university's controversial treatment program for pregnant women addicted to cocaine.In October 1989, the Medical University of South Carolina instituted a new program, called the Interagency Policy on Management of Substance Abuse During Pregnancy, designed “to ensure appropriate management of patients abusing illegal drugs during pregnancy.” This program required some pregnant women to seek drug counseling and prenatal care under the threat of criminal sanctions.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1748-720X.1995.tb01341.x
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