Hit ‘n Run reports on Arkansas lawmakers’ discussions of outlawing “smoking while pregnant”: http://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2006/06/smokefree_womb.shtml#014325
Naturally, Arkansas will not stop there and will likely ban drinking while pregnant, bungee jumping while pregnant, and any activity that puts the fetus at risk.
On Countdown last night, it was reported that the US HHS has an interest in convincing women to breastfeed. In PSAs, not breastfeeding is likened to mechanical bull riding or log rolling in the late stages of pregnancy. HHS tells mothers that their children won’t be smart and healthy if they don’t get breast fed exclusively for six months. (Why stop at six months, HHS? Some folks go for four years. It’s the teeth thing, isn’t it?) If HHS wants women to breastfeed on demand for six months or more, maybe they should promote smaller government and lower taxes so that families can afford for mothers to stay at home until their children are weaned.
I don’t reckon that the state has any business in the womb or at the teat, and I see the concern for fetuses (feti?) and newborns as just another hook to meddle and oppress. Moreover, these are examples of health fascism.
When I prosecuted child abuse cases in Florida, the social workers were keen to snatch babies from women who had ingested any illegal substance during pregnancy or who had consumed alcohol. The theory was that the woman put drugs or alcohol into her baby’s bloodstream during the brief interval between birth and the severance of the umbilical cord. I declined the honor of pioneering this novel theory; however, I was willing to consider cases against women whose addiction to drugs could be shown by admissible evidence to put her children at eminent risk of abuse or neglect. The mere ingestion of drugs or booze was not enough in my view to warrant state meddling. Not that I had much in the way of scruples about state meddling in those days.
Perhaps the state should just take pregnant women and enclose them in bubbles until they give birth, then oversee six months of lactation, then take the weaned children off to boarding school. That’s the only sure way to protect fetuses and infants and children from families.