Discrimination or Keeping Babies Safe? When Pregnant Moms are Tested for DrugsDanielle Sullivan
Where do you draw the line between keeping babies safe and healthy, and dipping into discriminatory practices? Some say what many New York City hospitals are doing is just not right.
According to the New York Daily News, more city hospitals in poorer neighborhoods are testing pregnant women for drugs (specifically marijuana but other illegal drugs as well). Some say it’s a purely discriminatory practice because the hospitals that test more often are in poorer neighborhoods, where many women are uninsured and on Medicaid.
For example, at Lenox Hill Hospital on New York’s Upper East Side, the rule is that pregnant moms are tested only if obviously intoxicated. However, a little further uptown, St. Barnabas Hospital, “which is also private but serves an impoverished section of the Bronx, with roughly 73% of its patients uninsured or on Medicaid — requires all new mothers to agree to testing. If they refuse, their babies are tested.”
But is that discrimination or a necessity? And what doe sit have to do with demographics?
Lynn Paltrow of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women says, “It’s absolutely discriminatory. This all comes out of the same history of racism, the drug war, misinformation.”
Yet does it help prevent further problems for the babies whose mothers are found to have been high while pregnant?
Bronx mom Glarimar Cruz admitted she smoked a joint two weeks before she gave birth and when her drug test was found positive at St. Barnabas Hospital, the Administration for Children’s Services was called. The department found there was a domestic violence complaint on Cruz’ from the past, citing that the baby’s father abused her in front of her children. The agency issued an order of protection against the father “who quickly dropped out of the picture”.
Cruz was also ordered to take parenting classes, drug counseling, and drug tests. Cruz maintains that this process “ruined her whole family”, but could it have saved it, instead?
What do you think? Is testing pregnant women for drug abuse a good practice that keeps the babies’ health in mind, or is it discriminatory?
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