Newborns affected by drug abuse of their pregnant mother is on the increase.

According to some recent studies, the number of newborns affected by drug abuse of their pregnant mother is on the increase. About 5% of newborns are found to have been exposed to drugs prenatally. As a result, many of these babies end up in intensive care, and often they are brain damaged. It is further estimated that nearly 15% of women consume alcohol while pregnant. Some of the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome are retardation and facial malformations, and this damage is generally permanent. Studies suggest that even three or four drinks a week can cause damage to a fetus. Various attempts have been made to prosecute these cases. Here are two examples:1. The case of Pamela Rae Monson (1985, California): Twentysevenyearold Pamela Rae Monson, a married mother of two, was pregnant. Toward the end of her pregnancy, she experienced some vaginal bleeding and went to see her doctor.The doctor diagnosed her as having placenta previa and advised her to stay at home and immediately see a doctor if it happened again. She was also told not to have sexual intercourse and not to take any amphetamines. Monson ignored all these instructions: she began to bleed, but did not seek any medical treatment. Shetook amphetamines that she obtained illegally and had sex with her husband. Later on the same day she started to have contractions. This finally prompted her to go to a hospital, where she gave birth to a child with massive brain damage. The boy lived only for six weeks. Although the police wanted Monson prosecutedfor homicide, the district attorney charged her only with not providing her child with medical attendance. In court, even this charge was thrown out the judge explained that an unborn child is not considered a person and thus does not fall under the scope of the child abuse law.2. The case of Tiffany Michelle Hitson (2006, Alabama): Tiffany Michelle Hitson was arrested the day after delivering her baby because she and her baby tested positive for cocaine. She pled guilty to child endangerment and was sentenced to one year in prison, as well as rehab. Two years later, both Hitson and her child were fine. While Hitson admitted that taking cocaine was the biggest mistake of her life, she says what she really needed was the rehabilitation, not prison. She regrets having missed the first year of her childs life. The Alabama district attorney maintained that prison sentences are necessary to prevent pregnant women from using drugs. By contrast, advocacy groups who help drug addicts argue that fear of prosecution might push a woman to get an abortion or prevent her from seeking prenatal care.In recent years, more than twenty states have amended their laws to allow for the prosecution of pregnant women who abuse alcohol or illegal drugs. Punishments include jail time, forced confinement, and termination of parental rights. However, up to this point, no U.S. court has upheld a murder conviction while the woman was pregnant. Punishments largely consist of short or suspended sentences and community service.Explain the reasoning behind the first court ruling. What is the difference between the moral and the legal?Does a pregnant mother have any responsibility toward the child before it is born? How would a care ethicist answer this? Does the woman simply have a responsibility to avoid harming the fetus, or should she also take positive steps to care for the childs well-being? Does the father have any rights or responsibilities in cases such as these?Can a woman have a caring relationship with her unborn child? Discuss some possible difficulties this case could present for care ethicists.What moral obligations do you think a pregnant woman has to protect her unborn child?Discuss whether a fetus should be protected under the law. If your answer is yes, explain how this should be done.

You may also like