Despite the common knowledge that drug and alcohol use during pregnancy is harmful to an unborn child, many pregnant woman choose to use drugs and alcohol throughout the duration of their pregnancy. According to investigative legal writer, Karen Zivi, in her law review article, "Who Is the Guilty Party? Rights, Motherhood, and the Problem of Prenatal Drug Exposure", there are currently no laws prohibiting pregnant women from using nicotine or consuming alcohol in the United States. In fact, a pregnant woman of legal age has the legal right to purchase alcohol and nicotine products throughout the United States. Furthermore, there are no specific laws against a pregnant woman exposing her fetus to harmful drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, or MDMA (better known as Ecstasy). The lack of laws protecting the unborn from forced drug and alcohol exposure is a disturbing trend that must be revised.
According to Zivi, a woman was not criminally charged with child abuse resulting from the use of crack cocaine during her pregnancy until 1987. This woman's charges were a special case because there were, and still are, no official laws against prenatal drug exposure in the United States (Zivi 237). In her review, Zivi continues to give examples of women who have been charged in unique cases for seriously harming their children in uteruo due to chronic drug and alcohol use between 1987 and 2000. Despite all of those cases, there have been no official laws created to protect unborn children from prenatal drug and alcohol exposure. Whether it be fear of a massive feminist protest or the lack of government resources, Zivi explains that the complicated politics and back lash involving the criminalization of prenatal substance exposure may be why no laws have been made regarding substance use during pregnancy (Zivi 239). Considering the blatant danger a pregnant woman forces on her unborn child by using harmful substances, shouldn't the use of drugs or alcohol be monitored and made illegal during pregnancy? The answer is yes.