The ruling in the Oklahoma City case of K. Anderson is punitive and will lead to more women falling victim to mass incarceration.
The ruling states that women can be prosecuted for neglect if “illegal substances” are found in a pregnant women’s lab work.
Addiction is a public and mental health issue that cannot be solved through the courts.
Folks recover from addiction in community, surrounded by loved ones, addiction professionals and other folks who use drugs. They do not recover in jails and prisons.
Folks only build shame and deep resentment toward their addiction and negative behaviors while incarcerated.
The shame for women is heavy as the world expects us to raise children, cook, work a full-time job (or two) and keep our house in order while trying to navigate the violence and hatred that is waiting outside our doors.
We do not need another piece of legislation to tell us that we are only useful if we reproduce, carry the child to term and abstain from alcohol and drugs because it is written in our cinema, religious texts and literature.
The prisons and jails women are placed in when we fail to meet society’s unrealistic standards are nothing in comparison to the mental prisons we create for ourselves from years of self-stigmatization.
Editor's Note: Last week, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals overturned a district court ruling in a case involving Rogers County resident Kearline Datara Anderson, who was charged with child neglect on an allegation that she used illegal drugs while she was pregnant. The appeals court reversed a decision that had determined the charge did not apply to an unborn child.
Letters to the editor are encouraged. Send letters to email@example.com.
Catch the latest in Opinion
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!