State Representative Mack Butler (R-AL) introduced legislation this week requiring medical professionals to notify police within two hours if they suspect a pregnant woman of having consumed illegal substances — regardless of whether she tests positive for drugs or not, AL.com reports.
During a hearing about the bill on Wednesday, the Times Daily reports, Butler “said that women who give birth to babies exposed to illegal drugs are often hard to track down when drug tests come back positive and they’ve already left the hospital.”
“Crackheads don’t have permanent addresses,” Butler further explained to members of the Alabama’s House Health Committee as the legislative body considered the merits of formally titled H.B. 408.
Alabama is one of several states “that arrest and prosecute women for drug use during pregnancy,” opening up 48 such cases against pregnant women and mothers in the last 18 month, AL.com reports.
Butler’s new bill steps beyond existing law, and makes it necessary for suspicious doctors to call the cops even if their pregnant patients’ drug tests aren’t in yet:
“This bill would specify that if a doctor or other health care professional suspects that a child is being or has been chemically endangered by being unlawfully exposed to a controlled substance, the doctor or health care professional must report his or her suspicion orally to law enforcement within two hours even if results of blood, urine, or other medical tests are not available to the doctor or health care professional within that time period.”
Megan Skipper, a student and on-the-ground Planned Parenthood spokesperson tells AL.com that Butler’s proposed bill “could lead to racial profiling, since it only requires the suspicion of drug use before notifying the authorities.” Skipper also cautions that fear of being reported to police could discourage some women from seeking prenatal care in the first place.
Susan Watson, executive director of the state’s ACLU, expresses concern about an incremental criminalization of pregnancy. “Where would it stop?” Watson wonders about Alabama’s H.B. 408, “Not exercising? Working long hours? Inability to afford regular prenatal care? Are these going to be made a crime next? This legislation opens us up to just that.”
“I consider this a pro-life bill,” Butler affirms to AL.com. “It is pro-life for the child and pro-life for the mother.”
Decades of research on the long-term effects of prenatal crack cocaine exposure show “no statistically significant differences in the long-term health and life outcomes between full-term babies exposed to cocaine in-utero and those who were not.” Rather, it’s the economic resources of the mother – not any “gestational exposure to cocaine” – that is the “more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children,” neonatologist Hallam Hart tells the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Spokespeople for National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a non-profit, penned an op-ed in the New York Times last year citing hundreds of cases in under a decade where pregnant women had been arrested or otherwise deprived “of their personal liberty.”
The majority of women arrested during their pregnancies “went to term and gave birth to a healthy baby. This includes the many cases where the pregnant woman was alleged to have used some amount of alcohol or a criminalized drug.”
Nevertheless, the advocates warn, incidences of pregnant women arrested for spurious and unscientifically sound reasons are “occurring every week”
Bulter introduced a bill in April allowing Alabama public school teachers to substitute lessons in the assigned science curriculum with religious teachings.
On his Facebook page earlier today, Butler declared “God’s Not Dead!” and shared a Fox News story of a teenage boy in Texas whose heart stopped for 20 minutes, during which time he had visions of Jesus Christ. Screenshot below:
Trump’s tax law threatened TurboTax’s profits — so the company started charging the disabled, the unemployed and students
The 2017 tax overhaul vastly expanded the number of people who could file simplified tax returns, a boon to millions of Americans.
But the new law directly threatened the lucrative business of Intuit, the maker of TurboTax.
Although the company draws in customers with the promise of a “free” product, its fortunes depend on getting as many customers as possible to pay. It had been regularly charging $100 or more for returns that included itemized deductions for mortgage interest and charitable donations. Under the new law, many wealthier taxpayers would no longer be filing that form, qualifying them to use the company’s free software.
Trump’s packed Supreme Court backs ‘forced arbitration’ that bars workers from taking abusive bosses to court
Corporations are rapidly rendering sexual harassment, race and gender discrimination, life-threatening workplaces and wage theft immune to employee legal action.
They achieve this by forcing the vast majority of non-union private-sector workers to sign away their rights to go to court or use class or collective arbitration. Instead many millions of workers are being forced to forgo these efficient legal ways to resolve issues and to file individual arbitration claims.
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Popular Democracy says that by 2024 more than 80% of non-union private-sector workers will find courthouse doors chained shut by forced arbitration clauses that ban lawsuits and collective actions. (EPI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank created in 1986 to press the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions.)
Corporations can legally put carcinogens in our food without warning labels — here’s why
A recent study by the Environmental Working Group revealed something horrifying: Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weedkiller Roundup, was present in 17 of the 21 oat-based cereal and snack products at levels considered unsafe for children. That includes six different brands of Cheerios, one of the most popular American cereals.
I've written before about the limits of corporate free speech when it comes to public safety, but on that occasion I discussed this insofar as it involved corporate-sponsored climate change denialism. Yet here we have something more tangible, more direct: The safe glyphosate limit for children is 160 parts per billion (ppb), yet Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch has 833 parts per billion and regular Cheerios has 729 ppb. While the potential risks of glyphosate are fiercely debated, many scientists believe that it is linked to cancer.