Drug Abuse by Pregnant Women

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The definition of child abuse is mistreatment of a child by parent, guardian, or an adult responsible for his or her welfare. Now, should drug use by pregnant women be considered child abuse? Babies should be born healthy, not have the risk of dying. But, when women are scared to seek prenatal care, abortions are not considered child abuse, and pregnant women have to smoke marijuana for medicinal reasons, might change your mind.

Paul A. Logli, an Illinois prosecuting attorney, argues that it is the government’s duty to enforce children’s rights to begin with a healthy, drug-free minded, and healthy bodies. Cigarette smoking causes serious illness and premature death in the general population. But pregnant women who smoke pass the nicotine and other carcinogenic chemicals to the growing fetus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, mothers who smoke early in their pregnancy are more likely to deliver babies that have several different heart defects, including septal defects – essentially a hole in the wall between the heart’s left and right chambers. Sadly, most infants with congenital heart defects die in the first year of life. Those infants who survive often face lengthy hospital stays and numerous surgeries along with a lifetime of disabilities.

Human costs related to the pain, suffering, and deaths resulting from maternal cocaine use during pregnancy are incalculable. The typical intensive-care costs for treating babies exposed to drugs, range from $7,500-$31,000. In some cases medical bills go as high as $150,000.

On February 4, 1989, at a Rockford. Illinois hospital, two day old Bianca Green lost her brief struggle for life. At the time of Bianca’s birth, both she and her mother, 24 year old, Melanie Green, tested positive for the presence of cocaine in their systems.

Social worker, Maureen A. Norton Hawk, contends that prosecuting women who use drugs during pregnancy will lead to fewer women seeking prenatal care. In May 1989, Melanie...
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