South Carolina Forces Pregnant Women to Take Drug Tests
Mandated drug tests in pregnant women in South Carolina for the presumptive purpose of identifying unfit mothers and protecting the unborn from their abuse is ideology gone berserk. Drug war hysteria of gulag proportions is reaching into indecently personal areas as never before in America. For many, this is long overdue in this country where imposed morality is becoming routine. For others, this policy is abominable, but for the wrong reasons. Libertarians object on 4th amendment grounds, unreasonable search. This constitutional reason sounds nice, but doesnít make sense once we realize for the umpteenth time that most Americans condone unconstitutional laws to fight the drug menace and drug addicts. The constitution is only for "good" people which drug addicts are not. "All people are created equal. But some are more equal than others."óGeorge Orwell. The fact that the drug war and all other unconstitutional policies are a direct result of the P/R paradigm of addictions doesnít phase the libertarians or civil rights liberals, who are fighting these governmental maneuvers. These fighters wonít recognize that their addiction paradigm, held so dear because of its blithly appealing qualities, is responsible for the irrational fear and hatred of addicts necessitating even unconstitutional remedies. As long as the P/R paradigm is sustained by addictionology, psychology, and psychiatry the constitution will remain irrelevent to authorities dealing with addicts. Even if the Supreme Court overturns South Carolina, the state will just change its law to comply with the ruling. Nothing will have changed. In fact, itís getting worse despite the anti-drug warriors. I implore the addictionologists and anti-drug warriors to take a look at this problem from a paradigmatic perspective rather than from a policy or constitutional one.
Below is the Lindesmith Center's News letter summary of the problem. To read the whole story, go to their web site or read the NY Times 3/2/00 for an article about it.
"Ferguson v. The City of Charleston challenges a policy designed
and implemented by Charleston, South Carolina law
enforcement officials whereby pregnant women who sought
obstetrical care at the Medical University of South Carolina
("MUSC") were subjected to unwarranted, non-consensual drug
testing designed and used to facilitate the arrest and prosecution
of mothers who tested positive for cocaine. (MUSC is a
state-funded hospital and the only medical facility in the
Charleston area to treat indigent and Medicaid patients, a
majority of whom are African-American.) When the policy was
implemented, no drug treatment was available for pregnant or
parenting women; mothers who tested positive at MUSC were
simply jailed, often moments after giving birth.
Ten women, including nine women of color who were arrested
for testing positive, challenged the policy on various
constitutional and statutory grounds and are now asking the
United States Supreme Court to overturn the Fourth Circuitís
decision to uphold the policy. Plaintiff believes the Fourth Circuit
committed a significant Fourth Amendment interpretation error in
adjudicating in favor of Defendants. Furthermore, this ruling, if
allowed to stand, will severely corrode the trust that is the basis
of the physician-patient relationship. Pregnant women will be
deterred from seeing doctors, from talking candidly with them,
and from consenting to medically advisable medical tests.
Unfortunately, the women who are most likely to be deterred
from obtaining medical treatment - those most likely to test
positive - are also the women who would most benefit from
attentive prenatal care. Such a policy departs from established
and carefully considered medical standards for substance abuse
treatment and prenatal care and is highly inimical to The Public
3/20/01 - The US Supreme court recently overturned the state's verdict and sent it back to the court of appeals. All is not lost.