I am thrilled to let you know that the Kentucky Supreme Court once again refused to advance the war on drugs to women’s wombs and made clear that pregnant women, no less than other persons, are protected by the rule of law. By refusing to accept the prosecution’s argument that the “unborn” should be legally disconnected from the pregnant women who carry them and treated as if they were separate legal persons, this decision protects the civil and reproductive rights and health of all women in Kentucky.
In this case, a pregnant woman was prosecuted in flagrant disregard for Kentucky law, embodied in its Maternal Health Act of 1992, and binding Kentucky Supreme Court precedent. NAPW worked extensively with the defendant’s talented public defenders (including Jamesa Drake, who presented a brilliant oral argument) and many treatment, recovery, and health allies in the commonwealth. NAPW, with attorneys Allison Harris of Shearman & Sterling and Kentucky Attorney Michael Goodwin, filed an amicus brief to highlight the negative public health consequences that would arise if drug-using women were to be punished for becoming mothers. Twenty-five public health organizations, advocates, and experts were represented on our brief (see list below) and more than sixty were represented as amici in the case. Today’s opinion reinforces the importance of Kentucky’s public health approach to the issues of drug use and pregnancy, and the fact that prosecutors should not be allowed to legally separate the fetus from the pregnant woman who carries and nurtures it.
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NAPW also worked with international human rights experts and organizations as well as leading bioethicists who filed amicus briefs opposing this misapplication of the criminal law to pregnant women, new mothers, and their children.
Your support enabled NAPW to organize more than 60 organizations (see full list of amicus below) to speak out against the prosecution of pregnant women and punitive policies that undermine the health of pregnant women, mothers, and babies. We hope that you will celebrate this victory that you helped to make possible, and continue to support our work on behalf of women in Kentucky and across the nation.
As always, donating to NAPW is a great way to show your support.
NAPW and our colleagues represented the following groups in the public health amicus brief: the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG); American Psychiatric Association; National Perinatal Association; Kentucky Coalition for Women’s Substance Abuse Services; Kentucky Psychiatric Medical Association; American Society of Addiction Medicine; Child Welfare Organizing Project; National Association of Social Workers; National Coalition for Child Protection Reform; Northwest Women’s Law Center; National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum; Pathways, Inc.; Baron Edmond de Rothschild Chemical Dependency Institute of Beth Israel Medical Center; The Drug Policy Alliance; People Advocating Recovery; Sistersong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective; Our Bodies, Ourselves; The Healing Place Women’s and Children’s Community; Law Students for Reproductive Justice; Fran Belvin, CPAT; Susan Barron, PhD; Susan Boyd, PhD; Stephanie S. Covington, PhD, LCSW; Nancy Day, PhD; Lynn Posze, MA, LPCC; and Carol Stange, MSSW.
Lawrence Nelson and Forrest Roberts filed an amicus brief on behalf of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry; Anna C. Mastroianni, JD, MPH; Bryan Hilliard, PhD; C. Ronald Koons, MD, FACP; Cavin P. Leeman, PhD; David Magnus, PhD; Donald Brunnquell, PhD, LP; Elaine Morgan, MD; Glenn McGee, PhD; Global Lawyers and Physicians; Gregory Loeben, PhD; Hilde Lindemann, PhD; Howard Brody, MD, PhD; Howard Minkoff, MD; Inmaculada de Melo-Martin, PhD, MS; Jeffrey Kahn, PhD, MPH; Judith Bernstein, RNC, PHD; Katherine A. Taylor, JD, PhD; Lauren G. McAliley, MSN, MA, CNP; Lois Shepard, JD; Mary Faith Marshall, PhD; Peter J. Cohen, MD, JD; Rebecca Bigoney, MD; Rev. Timonthy A. Torstenson; Robert A. Deweese, MD, MA; Rosamond Rhodes, PhD; Stephen S. Hanson, PhD; Susan K. Palmer, MD; and Timothy F. Murphy, PhD.
Carrie Bettinger-Lopez and Michael Jay O’Hara filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Anti-Sexism Committee of the National Lawyers Guild; Center for Reproductive Rights; Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic; Columbia Law School Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic; Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers School of Law, Newark; Criminal Justice Clinic at Hofstra Law School; International Mental Disability Law Refor Project in the Justice Action Center at New York Law School; International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme at the University of Toronto; Jamie O’Connell (University of California, Berkeley School of Law, International Human Rights Clinic); Justice Now; Leitner Center for International Law & Justice at Fordham Law School; Mindy Jane Roseman (Harvard Law School, Human Rights Program); and Southwest Women’s Law Center.
Sheryl Snyder, Amy Cubbage, and Jill Morrison filed an amicus brief on behalf of Legal Momentum and National Women’s Law Center. David Alan Friedman and William Ellis Sharp filed an amicus brief on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation Reproductive Freedom Project and American Civil Liberties Union Of Kentucky.