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April 24, 2018

Note: Justice Talking's grant funding expired in 2008 and the project has been closed. This website is an archive of the entire run of Justice Talking shows through June 30, 2008.
It is no longer being maintained. We apologize for any stale or broken links.
Featured Program

Addiction, Abuse and the Impact of Prenatal Drug Use Laws
Last Featured: 9/22/2000

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Should pregnant women who abuse drugs or alcohol be criminally prosecuted for child abuse or endangerment? If the woman`s drug abuse causes the death of the fetus, are more serious charges such as murder appropriate and constitutional? Over 200 women, in 30 states, have been prosecuted for using drugs while they were pregnant. Many states are now ordering mandatory drug testing for newborns and pregnant women and some states require that any evidence of drug use be reported to child welfare agencies. The South Carolina Supreme Court was the first to uphold criminal prosecution of women for prenatal child abuse involving illegal drugs. That ruling declared a viable fetus legally a child, with full protection under the state`s child abuse and neglect laws. Reproductive rights advocates say these prosecutions are unnecessarily punitive and that the underlying goal of fetal protectionism is to weaken a woman`s right to abortion.

Dorothy Roberts joined the faculty of the Northwestern University School of Law in 1998 with a joint appointment as a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Reseach and as a faculty affiliate of the Joint Center for Poverty Research. Professor Roberts has written and lectured extensively on the interplay of gender, race and class in legal issues concerning reproduction and motherhood. She is the author of Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Pantheon, 1997), which received a 1998 Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America, and has published more than fifty articles and essays in books, scholarly journals, newspapers and magazines. Professor Roberts received her B.A. from Yale College and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Paul Logli has been the State's Attorney for Winnebago County, Illinois for nearly ten years, where he is responsible for the prosecution of all criminal offenses for the county that includes Rockford, Illinois' second largest city. Prior to this, Mr. Logli served for five years as Associate Judge for the 17th Judicial Circuit. He has taught on the faculty of the National College of District Attorneys since 1989 and at the Northwestern University Traffic Institute since 1994 and has published several articles on the subject of prosecuting women for prenatal drug use. Mr. Logli received his B.A. cum laude from Loras College and his J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law.

Closing Quote
"Most commentators tend to approach the subject of conflict between fetal and maternal interests as a question of rights. Some commentators conclude that the mother's rights should prevail in all circumstances. Others conclude that fetal rights should have priority. A few have argued that an effort should be made to balance the interests of mother and fetus. We might agree that pregnant women have a moral obligation to the fetuses that they carry. We could probably all agree that she should not be required to be a saint. But we would have difficulty in defining with precision what the scope of that obligation should be, in part because we have not yet worked out what parental obligations should be."

— Georgetown University Law Professor Patricia King

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Special Announcements
Justice Talking’s last broadcast & podcast was June 30, 2008.
Center for Reproductive Law and Policy
Heritage Foundation
Lindesmith Center
Roberts, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty, Vintage Press.
Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty
by Dorothy Roberts
Misconceiving Mothers : Legislators, Prosecutors, and the Politics of Prenatal Drug Exposure (Gender, Family, and the Law)
by Laura E. Gomez
Pregnant Women on Drugs : Combating Stereotypes and Stigma
by Sheigla Murphy and Marsha Rosenbaum
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