USA: The Problem With Penalizing Women Who Drink While Pregnant

The FASD Prevention Conversation Project


A new study, published today in Alcohol and Alcoholism, is the first published piece in a large-scale project examining state-level policies regarding alcohol use during pregnancy. Researchers looked at the prevalence of these policies, the different kinds of policies that exist, their correlation to reproductive rights laws, and will eventually put together a comprehensive analysis of when and how policies can effectively combat the public health crisis of alcohol use during pregnancy.

One key element of the research was separating these policies into two categories; punitive policies (designed to punish women for drinking while pregnant by civilly committing them, mandating reporting of those who use alcohol to law enforcement and/or child protective services, or initiating child welfare proceedings to remove children from the mother’s custody) and supportive policies (which attempt to address the issue of alcohol use during pregnancy through education and treatment).

The study, from Advancing New Standards in…

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