Don’t Jail Pregnant Women

Target: Scott Walker, Wisconsin Governor

Goal: Stop the criminalization of pregnant women

Wisconsin authorities are legally allowed to imprison pregnant women who have used illegal drugs if they “habitually lack self control” and there is some health risk to the fetus. This law was recently used to imprison a woman who suffered from depression and a thyroid condition and started self-medicating, before she even knew she was pregnant. Please ask Wisconsin’s governor to act to change this law which doesn’t protect women or children.

The woman, Tamara Loerstcher, went to get tested for pregnancy at a Wisconsin hospital, and told the medical staff about her past drug use (as one should in a medical visit). The staff, in response, contacted authorities and handed Loerstcher’s medical records over to the state, which led to her being charged with “abuse of an unborn child” and eventually being put in jail. Even after getting out of jail she is still facing consequences, since her name will be on the child abuse registry for life, which will prevent her from ever working as a nurse. In the name of protecting her unborn child, she will now not be able to support her living child once he is born in a few weeks.

This law and its consequences are absurd. Jailing pregnant women for drug abuse only puts them and their children at additional risk, and it is especially unacceptable when dealing with a woman who wasn’t even aware that she was pregnant at the time and disclosed her drug use in order to protect her child. Please call on Governor Walker to change this law immediately and protect pregnant women.


Dear Governor Walker,

I am writing to you about a Wisconsin law which allows authorities to jail pregnant women who have used illegal drugs. This law doesn’t protect women or their children, and in some cases is used in completely inappropriate situations. Tamara Loerstcher’s case is one of those cases. She was jailed for self-medicating for untreated medical problems, before she even knew she was pregnant. Now, after being released and a few weeks before her son is born, she will never be able to go back to working as a nurse because she will be on the child abuse registry for life.

Cases like this show that criminalization is not the way to address drug problems or health concerns. Jailing women will never help them or their children, and will only leave them with trauma and consequences that will make their lives harder and damage their ability to care for their children. If you want to care for the well-being of people in your state, please immediately take action against this law and protect the rights of pregnant women.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: miss_millions via Flickr

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