uth Carolina had an associated increase in the infant mortality rate when the state began prosecuting pregnant women for any endangerment of the fetus. This type of prosecution could even encourage women to have an abortion rather than risk arrest for a bad outcome during pregnancy. This in fact occurred in at least one highly publicized case.
Contrary to our assumptions about Hernandez's case, there is no medical evidence that links methamphetamine use to her baby's death. The reason for her stillbirth will remain unknown — as is the case for 50 percent of these losses. The evidence indicates that instead of using our resources to prosecute women for drug use during pregnancy, we should establish treatment options that enable women to stay healthy and have the best chance of delivering a healthy baby. Neither health care nor justice is promoted if women who suffer stillbirths are treated as murderers.
Stone is an OB/GYN in Oklahoma City and is state chairman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.