Great news for women expecting babies in Indiana: Drug tests for everyone! Cheers! Indiana's attorney general Greg Zoeller is proposing mandatory drug testing for all pregnant women and girls. It's about money, supposedly. Zoeller says screening pregnant women for drugs could save the state $30 million in hospital fees for treating infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) -- babies born addicted to drugs, in other words.
Okay ... if this highly intrusive abuse of human rights really were in the interest of helping drug-dependent women and girls get treatment, I could see how it might be almost justifiable. But come on, can you think of any other group of people who are subject to mandatory drug testing without probable cause? If you were pregnant, would you be okay with this?
Apparently Indiana doesn't have the greatest history in the way it treats pregnant women with drug dependency. You're more likely to get criminalized than to get help, which means another baby in the system and another woman in prison. And that sounds more expensive.
I worry that if at-risk women and girls know drug testing is mandatory during pregnancy, they'll be less likely to seek the treatment they need throughout their pregnancy. Because they're not seeing a doctor (which is already a big problem among low-income women especially), other health problems will go untreated, resulting in problems with delivery and health issues for their babies. All this because they're afraid a drug test will land them in jail.
I'm sure plenty of women will read this and say, "Well, if you're not taking drugs, you have nothing to worry about." But I can't be that selfish and short-sighted.
What is it about being pregnant that suddenly makes you less of a human in some people's eyes? Why don't we trust pregnant women? Why are they treated more like property or dependents? I hope AG Zoeller's proposal fails.
Do you think there should be mandatory drug testing for pregnant women and girls?
Image via Jeremy/Flickr