October 16, 2015


"How 'Best Practices' in Neonatal Care Endanger Mothers Seeking Drug Treatment and Their Babies," Britni de la Cretaz, RH Reality Check: "Women who give birth to babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) are being criminalized -- and their babies are suffering as a result," de La Cretaz writes, citing cases of women being arrested after giving birth to infants with NAS in Alabama and Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. She writes, "Women, particularly poor women and women of color, are having their babies taken by child protective services, sometimes while they are thrown in jail, for an alleged addiction that needs treatment, not punishment." De la Cretaz notes that the protocols for treating infants with NAS are "hard" on both the woman and the infant, and they "may actually contribute to or exacerbate NAS symptoms in babies" by separating them from their mothers. According to de la Cretaz, recent research suggests that infants display fewer NAS symptoms when they are permitted to stay with the woman with a "rooming in" model of care. This care model also is less expensive, she writes, citing a 2013 study finding that "rooming-in decreased the average cost of a mother's hospital stay by half." De la Cretaz expresses optimism that even conservative lawmakers who "are championing policies that criminalize women for using drugs -- whether those drugs are licit or illicit" might be swayed by these cost benefits. "Rooming-in, breastfeeding, and skin-to-skin contact have been shown to drastically improve the outcomes for babies with NAS and decrease the number of babies being diagnosed with it too," de la Cretaz writes, adding "Lives depend on these new protocols being implemented in hospitals around the country, and it can't happen soon enough" (de la Cretaz, RH Reality Check, 10/13).

What others are saying about criminalizing pregnant women:

~ "Whose Bodies Should Government Control?" Sally Kohn, The Atlantic.


"California Becomes the First State To Crack Down on Misleading 'Crisis Pregnancy Centers,'" Alex Zielinski, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Last week, "California became the first state to pass a law [AB 775] regulating the nearly 170 anti-abortion clinics in the state," but just "48 hours later, two clinics had already sued California Attorney General Kamala Harris [D], deeming the new law unconstitutional," Zielinski writes. According to Zielinski, the law "requires clinics commonly referred to as 'Crisis Pregnancy Centers' (CPCs) to inform their patients about how they can obtain affordable birth control, abortion, and prenatal care" and, "[i]f the CPC does not have a medical license, staff must inform each patient that their ... clinic is not licensed to provide health care." She explains that the CPCs claim the law violates their free speech rights, an argument that "has been the key to shutting down similar laws in the past" in Austin, Baltimore and New York City. However, Zielinski notes that advocates are optimistic about the California law, which was crafted to "mee[t] all constitutional requirements" and "is backed by the state's attorney general, who is responsible for upholding the constitution." She concludes by citing Amy Everitt, state director of NARAL Pro-Choice California, who noted that CPCs "'may claim this is a free speech issue, but it's really a public health issue ... When women are looking for trustworthy health care, they should get it. Right now, they're not" (Zielinski, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/13).

What others are saying about crisis pregnancy centers:

~ "The United States' Deceptive Anti-Abortion 'Pregnancy Centers' Are Going Global," Zielinski, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."

~ "A New California Law Targets Crisis Pregnancy Centers -- but Will It Work?" Christina Cauterucci, Slate's "XX Factor."


"Can Doctors Keep up With the Growing Demand for Trans Health Care?" Zielinski, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "Equal access to health care and coverage for transgender patients is quickly becoming a reality," Zielinski writes. For example, she cites the grocery store chain Kroger's decision to "offer its roughly 400,000 employees full health coverage for trans-related surgeries and drug therapy in 2016," as well as proposed Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) regulations "that would prohibit discrimination in health coverage on the basis of a person's gender identity." Yet despite these advances, "a general lack of comprehensive research, academic instruction, and cultural competency leaves many health care professionals empty-handed," Zielinski writes, noting, "At times, the best information comes from trans patients themselves -- a burden that can discourage them from returning for needed check-ups." According to Zielinski, "One of the biggest barriers to trans coverage lies in the technical details," with "[s]ome health care [providers] ... wary of treating trans patients at all because they don't want to wade into complicated insurance processes." She writes that "to understand these issues, along with the more trans-specific procedures, health providers need a stronger source of medical research to lean on." Zielinski adds, "Until federal and academic research catches up with trans health needs, case-by-case regulation -- sparked by patient complaints -- may be the fastest way to reform and educate both health providers and insurers" (Zielinski, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/15).