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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 141631 Find in a Library
Journal: Child Welfare  Volume:72  Issue:2  Dated:(March/April 1993)  Pages:129-140
Author(s): R G Madden
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 12
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: To be effective in curbing the problem of alcohol- addicted and drug-addicted babies due to fetal abuse by the mother, States must develop programs and services to meet the needs of women and children rather than respond punitively to the results of unmet needs.
Abstract: The tragedy of alcohol-addicted and drug-addicted babies has spurred some State legislatures to criminalize so-called fetal abuse and to toughen family law responses. These legislators are operating under a myth that those who abuse drugs while pregnant are deliberately cruel or indifferent to the needs of the unborn child. These women are often emotionally immature and do not have access to the kinds of resources required to prevent their pregnancies or treat their addictions. A punitive legal response to this problem will only further isolate a population that already distrusts health and social service providers. There are statutes already in place to respond to a parent found unfit for any reason, including addiction. The prenatal behavior should be of sufficient concern to warrant investigation and offers of service. It should not interfere with sound clinical judgment of the child's best interests. Those concerned with child welfare must be ready to assume a proactive approach to any legislative or judicial initiative that limits the ability to make decisions in the best interests of children, under the guiding principle of attempting to keep children in their own homes. 42 references
Main Term(s): Child abuse prevention
Index Term(s): Drug abuse; Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; State laws
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