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Fetal Abuse

             Does a woman have the right to say how she will take care of her baby while she is pregnant? If yes, is there a limit to the amount of abuse she would be able to inflict on an unborn fetus? According to an article published by the Mother Jones Journal titled "Fetal Abuse" these questions were addressed. Fetal rights is the notion that unborn babies deserve the same legal protections as children. Between the late 1980's and early 1990's prosecutors in more than 30 states have charged pregnant women from child abuse to manslaughter. In almost all the cases, judges have thrown all cases due to the Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade which established that a fetus is not a person in the eyes of the law. Seventeen states have enacted civil laws making it possible for authorities to take away the children of pregnant women who test positive for drugs. In 1997, South Carolina's Supreme Court stated that drug using pregnant women can be prosecuted criminally and sentenced to as much as 10 years in prison. Hospital officials from the Medical University of South Carolina have started a program of testing pregnant women for drug use, and turning their findings to the police. Later this year the Supreme Court will rule on whether that practice violated the women's Fourth Amendment right of protection against unreasonable searches. According to the national survey of pregnant woman, only a little over 1 percent used cocaine, while nearly 20 percent smoked cigarettes, which are linked to a large range of infant health problems, and alcohol which is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation in newborns. In some states there are an insufficient amount facilities to accommodate pregnant mothers who use drugs. New York City for instance, ran 31 drug abuse and child-care clinics from 1990 to 1995, but almost half of these clinics have since been shut down. So what should happen to these newborn children? Should the state take over responsibility or should the infant or newborn be given to the mother with certain restrictions?.

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