Target: Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
Goal: Don’t force doctors to report drug use by pregnant people without evidence.
Expecting mothers and other pregnant people will soon be open to investigation and possible arrest for no other reason than looking like they could be using drugs, if legislation introduced by conservative State Representative Mack Butler becomes law. This will undoubtedly lead to the racial profiling of pregnant patients. Demand that this bill never become Alabama state law.
The state of Alabama has laws on the books that allow authorities to arrest and prosecute expecting mothers and other pregnant people for using drugs during their pregnancies. According to Representative Butler, though, this is often hard to enforce because “crackheads don’t have permanent addresses.” By this he means that it’s difficult to track down those who test positive for drug use after they leave the hospital, as drug tests can take several days to process.
In order to bypass this complication, Butler has introduced legislation that demands that doctors report pregnant patients to the police if they have a mere suspicion that they might be using drugs. The issue with this, of course, is that it will lead to racial profiling and will discourage pregnant people from seeking prenatal care for fear of rightly or wrongly being turned over to the police.
Representative Butler’s bill is useless and will introduce more problems than it will fix. Still, it is likely to be approved by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature. Sign the petition below to demand that Alabama Governor Robert Bentley veto this bill when it arrives on his desk so that it can never be leveraged to hurt Alabamans.
Dear Governor Bentley,
I am writing you today regarding House Bill 408. This proposal is unnecessary and will end up doing more harm to your state than good. You should not hesitate to veto it when it comes to your desk.
House Bill 408 will make doctors report pregnant patients that they suspect are taking drugs in the complete absence of empirical evidence of drug use. Given that pregnant patients of color are much more likely to be suspected of drug use than their white counterparts, this bill obviously raises the legal and ethical issue of racial profiling.
In addition to that, however, it will also scare pregnant people away from seeking prenatal care at all for fear of being wrongly reported to police. It can also open up a possible legal precedent whereby Alabama could criminalize other behaviors of pregnant patients based on their presumed effect on the baby, like lack of exercise, lack of sleep, lack of nutritional diet, lack of access to healthcare, etc.
This bill is misguided and raises partisan political ideology up as proper medical care and sound medicine. I demand that you veto House Bill 408 when it arrives on your desk so that it can never be a detriment to your state’s healthcare.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: United States Agency for International Development