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Should pregnant women who use alcohol be incarcerated until they give birth

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Woman has the right, by virtue of her own birth, to do whatever she wishes with her own body.  You own yourself.  That means you're responsible for yourself.  If she chooses to drink to excess, that's her business, and she alone suffers the consequences of drunkenness.  If she drinks and drives, then she suffers additionally the penalties of the law for endangering others' lives, for others, by virtue of their births, have a right to live and not be endangered by some drunk's actions. However, the question as written presupposes fetuses have rights. If so, then yes, drinking to excess while pregnant is endangering another's life.  But the question isn't even written like that.  If she drinks one drink, is that endangerment?  Is any alcohol near a fetus now a crime? What proof a single drink causes brain damage?  And if "public" health policy deigns that it does, who enforces it?  The fetus police?  Are they the defenders of fetus rights?  And if fetuses have rights, how will they exercise them? Although fetuses may be alive, they're not born, and until such time, they cannot have rights, as they are dependent upon the mother.  As an extension of the mother's body, no one but the mother gets to decide how much to drink, smoke or shoot should they so choose. Certainly those concerned should educate the few errant mothers.  If you attempt to incriminate, you cause more problems and solve none.

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Well if our society was to go to that extreme, then we might as well make abortion illegal. I do not think that should happen or will it ever happen.  

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Good question. I wish there was a simple "yes/no" answer for this. Obviously, how much alcohol is being consumed? Did the woman in question have any other addictions prior to becoming pregnant? Is she taking anything else? There are several substances, hard drugs and even some prescription medicines, for example, that I would say count. Now, I recognize the fact that someone should intervene, but is it the state's right to do so? This is a slippery slope; a cliche I know, but I feel it best sums up the overall problem. If we make this illegal, what next? Going after women who smoke? Driving recklessly? What about men? if a man smokes near a pregnant woman, could he be charged? Life is not cheap, and one should do everything they can, but is there another way? Education might be the answer. If we at least try to arrest the development and not the parents, then things might work out for the better.  

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All life is precious. Every life is valuable. For anyone, female or male, to endanger that life is not just irresponsible, in many cases it is considered illegal. Those who break the law go to jail. It's just that simple.

Having said that, is it societally responsible to incarcerate a pregnant woman, who has many more medical and emotional needs than the average inmate? No, unless it is a very specialized prison situation (where all needs can be provided for; a highly unlikely event). A better approach may be the aforementioned education, but in all honesty, people largely know not to drink or smoke while carrying a child, unless they are in some deprived, third-world type scenario.

So, what is the big answer here? Here in the U.S., the Department of Children and Families (or a similar agency's) intervention in the drinking mother's life could make a difference. A person may report such an act of neglect or abuse to the appropriate agency, and allow the due process to take its course from there. As citizens, that's the best we can do.  

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I agree with post #4 incarcerating a pregnant woman for drinking acohol is probably not the most productive method of treatment. What would serve a better solution includes educating the individual regarding the risks of abusing acohol while pregnant. Perhaps using the myriad of statistics available to those who seek the information could have a positive influence on the woman. I also believe there should be a distinction between the women who have a glass of red wine at dinner and those abusing acohol while pregnant simply because there is a difference. I think this type of 'across the board condemnation' is a dangerous mentality and is generally counter productive in its intent.  

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I think the heated debate on this topic really comes down to Roe vs. Wade.  If a person believes that a pregnant woman should be allowed to abort her baby, then that person probably also believes that a pregnant woman should be allowed to abuse her unborn baby.  If a person believes abortion should be against the law, then they probably agree that a pregnant woman who drinks during pregnancy is violating some type of right.

I agree that there isn't a way to criminally prosecute a pregnant woman for drinking; but that doesn't mean I don't wish things were different.  If a woman gave an infant whiskey instead of formula, her child's doctor or child care practitioner could refer her to social services and she could be convicted of child abuse.  Yet, because the baby is still part of her own body, she is allowed to mistreat it however she wants.

I think it also should be noted that there is a difference between eating too much pizza and drinking alcohol, in terms of the lasting effect it has on the baby.

Just for a reference, I AM a pregnant woman, and I have had other pregnancies in the past.  I do what I can to provide nutrition and other necessities for my child, just the same way I do that for my children who are already born.  I may not be perfect, and I may not follow all the "rules" of pregnancy to a tee (I admit it - I don't work out as well as I should, and sometimes I eat ice cream, ha ha).  But I also don't do anything that I KNOW will endanger my child's future health, like drinking or doing drugs.  It hurts my heart to see a pregnant woman who smokes cigarettes, for example, because I know that that baby inside of her is smoking too, and he or she didn't have a choice in the matter.

We have all heard horror stories about child abuse, and I would like to think that we all feel heartbroken about it.  In my opinion, this issue is hardly different.  Then again, in my opinion, a fetus is a child just like a toddler is a child, or a teenager is a child.  If a child is being hurt, I wish we would have a system in place that would stop that hurt from happening, no matter WHEN it happens.

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It seems to me that incarceration is by no means the best way to deal with this.  Talk about how to ensure that the child has a stable family to be born into!

On the other hand, I agree that seriously endangering a child during pregnancy should not be ignored.

Instead of treating this as a criminal matter -- it's unlikely that the mother is doing it with the intent of harming the child -- it would make more sense for an observer to be able to report the mother to an appropriate authority, such as a hospital.  They would then be given the ability to contact the mother and offer her education and treatment.

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Well, I'll play devil's advocate here and say yes.  I believe it is a form of child abuse, as a parent knowingly inflicts damage on a child through their own doing.  It's no more a parent's choice to drink alcohol while pregnant than it would be for a parent to use electroshock "therapy" to correct their child's behavior in first grade.  There are rules in place to protect voiceless children, even until the age of 18.  If a child complains to a teacher that a parent is neglecting or abusing them, the teacher is lawfully required to report such behavior to the authorities.  How much less should citizens be empowered to call the authorities should they see a woman knowingly and willfully injuring her unborn child?  Not making such a call would be comparable to watching a father punch his daughter in the face while enjoying a hot meal, just to ignore it and move on to dessert.

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No, they should not. Whether the woman is occasionally using alcohol as in a glass of wine with dinner once or twice, or whether she is abusing alcohol and drinking every day, it is her choice to potentially damage herself and her unborn child. Would you incarcerate a woman to prevent her from having an abortion? If not, why not? What is the difference in the two situations? You can't give a woman the right to choose in one situation and take away that right in another situation.

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