Drug Policy and the Rights of Pregnant Women and Children
Lynn M. Paltrow, JD, Executive Director, founded National Advocates for Pregnant Women in 2001. Ms. Paltrow is a graduate of Cornell University and New York University School of Law. She has worked on numerous cases challenging restrictions on the right to choose abortion as well cases opposing the prosecution and punishment of pregnant women seeking to continue their pregnancies to term. Ms. Paltrow has served as a senior staff attorney at the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, as Director of Special Litigation at the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, and as Vice President for Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of New York City. Ms. Paltrow conceived of and filed the first affirmative federal civil rights challenge to a hospital policy of searching pregnant women for evidence of drug use and turning that information over to the police. In the case of Ferguson et. al., v. City of Charleston et. al., the United States Supreme Court agreed that such a policy violates the 4th amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Ms. Paltrow will focus on the intersections of women's rights, reproductive freedom, drug policy, and race relations regarding pregnant women and drug use. The talk will challenge the current “war on drugs” and the ongoing media coverage of pregnant women who use drugs paired with the battle to re-criminalize abortion being an effective means of advancing both the war on drugs and the war on women. Like other applications of the war on drugs, the punishment of pregnant women is targeted at vulnerable, low-income, women of color; those with the least access to health care or legal defense.