top of page
  • Writer's pictureS G

Criminalizing Pregnancy: A Dangerous Path of Injustice

The alarming findings from the recent report by Pregnancy Justice bring to light an under-discussed issue in our nation: the criminalization of pregnancy. To see that nearly 1,400 people were arrested for actions tied to their pregnancies between January 2006 and June 2022 is, in itself, a tragic indictment of our society's misguided approach to reproductive health and rights.

The essence of bodily autonomy lies in an individual's ability to make decisions about their own body. It is an integral part of human rights and should be unquestionably safeguarded. Yet, the U.S. has found itself in a position where a person's decision to become pregnant can be a deciding factor in their incarceration.

The disparities highlighted in the report are equally troubling. With Black individuals disproportionately represented and low-income individuals making up almost 85% of the cases, we are forced to confront the intersectionality of racial, gender, and economic discrimination. Such findings reiterate that our justice system is plagued with biases that disproportionately affect marginalized communities.

The concentration of almost 80% of pregnancy-related arrests in five southern states underscores the dangers of regional disparities in reproductive rights. Particularly, Alabama's prominence in the report, alongside its appalling maternal mortality rate, paints a grim picture of the state's approach to reproductive health and justice.

The role of medical professionals and family regulation workers in instigating a third of these arrests is deeply troubling. At its core, the healthcare system should aim to provide care, guidance, and support. It is distressing to think that pregnant individuals might avoid seeking necessary medical care due to a well-founded fear of being reported and subsequently criminalized. The chilling effect of this dynamic threatens the very purpose of our medical establishments and endangers lives.

The recent stance taken by Alabama’s attorney general, indicating a move to criminalize individuals aiding in out-of-state abortions, showcases a disturbing trajectory in the war against reproductive rights. These moves not only infringe upon personal rights but can have dire public health consequences.

The roadmap provided by Pregnancy Justice – promoting the personhood of pregnant individuals, restoring, and protecting abortion rights, and ensuring robust legal defense for those criminalized due to pregnancy – is a vital starting point. The overturning of landmark rulings like Roe v. Wade has left individuals more vulnerable than ever, underscoring the need for renewed efforts to safeguard reproductive rights.

Our society stands at a pivotal juncture. We can choose to continue down a path of criminalizing pregnancy, shrouded in biases, or we can chart a new course, built on empathy, justice, and the foundational principle of bodily autonomy. For the sake of those impacted, their families, and the collective conscience of our nation, we must opt for the latter.
2 views0 comments


bottom of page