Stop Arresting Pregnant Women for Seeking Medical Care


Target: Wisconsin Legislators

Goal: Allow women who struggle with addiction to seek prenatal care

When pregnant women seek prenatal care, they should be able to entrust their doctors with thier medical information without fear of prosecution. For Alicia Beltran, a pregnant woman who formerly struggled with an addiction to a prescription medication, her honesty with her doctor resulted in imprisonment. When she was taken to court, her fetus was granted an attorney, but she was not. Urge the state of Wisconsin to overturn the ridiculous law that gives fetuses authority over their pregnant mothers, and ultimately strips pregnant women of personhood altogether.

Beltran, who was 12 weeks pregnant when she first attended prenatal care, was honest with her physician about her past struggle with the drug Percocet. She was no longer addicted to it, as shown by a clean drug test, but her physician advised her to continue an unnecessary anti-addiction drug, which Beltran refused. A few weeks later, she was forcibly taken to a courtroom in handcuffs and shackles, then ordered to spend 90 days in a drug treatment center for no apparent reason apart from her doctor’s unwarranted suspicion.

This tragedy is the result of a 1990s law, nicknamed the “cocaine mom” act, that attempts to protect fetuses while incriminating their struggling mothers. It states that child-welfare authorities may lawfully confine a pregnant woman who uses drugs or alcohol if she refuses to accept treatment, and if she is believed to habitually lack self-control.

At her hearing, the judge informed Beltran that she would not be given an attorney, but that one would be provided for her fetus.

Like countless other mothers, this woman was falsely accused of posing a threat to her unborn child, and undoubtedly the stress of imprisonment and forced treatment took its toll on her emotional well-being. Still, adamant pro-lifers refuse to budge on these laws because they truly believe that stripping a woman of privacy and physical liberty will have a positive effect on her pregnancy.

In addition to harming the mother emotionally, many experts believe that threatening women for being honest with their doctors is most harmful for the child. If women grow to fear healthcare providers and social workers who may report them, they may choose not to disclose information, such as addiction, that their providers can help them overcome.

The state of Wisconsin has structured its policies so that pregnant women in need are incapable of receiving proper care and treatment lest they sacrifice their personhood rights to a court. Urge the legislators in Wisconsin to work towards overturning this horrible act, and ensure that pregnant women have access to healthcare without risk of being shackled for their honesty.


Dear Wisconsin Legislators,

Alicia Beltran, a resident of Wisconsin, was recently arrested and accused of habitually lacking self-control by endangering her child with a drug addiction. Though Beltran proved through a drug test that she was innocent, her honest disclosure of her medical history to a physician resulted in imprisonment. This is tragic.

Pregnant women who do have struggles should not be punished, but rather helped through them. It is not only cruel to confine women who require help, but it is also harmful for unborn children, as mothers who fear their doctors may choose not to disclose such information, thus compromising their own health as well as their child’s. It is unjust to perpetuate fear in these women and disgusting to punish them for seeking treatment and being honest with their health providers.

I urge you to overturn this so-called fetal protection law that ultimately strips struggling pregnant women of personhood rights and discourages them from seeking the kind of care they desperately need for themselves and their unborn children.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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