A Jurisprudential Analysis of Government Intervention and Prenatal Drug Abuse Academic Article uri icon


  • This article addresses the serious public health problem of substance abuse among pregnant women. Part I of this article introduces the national problem of prenatal drug abuse. Part II discuses the appropriateness of government intervention. The article explains the medical consequences of prenatal drug abuse, and then, describes the justification of government intervention. The article details both existing criminal law and new legislation regarding prenatal drug abuse. Part III addresses constitutional concerns and the conflict between a womans right on the one hand and the state interest and fetal rights on the other. Part IV considers the moral and legal obligations and duties of pregnant women. After introducing the obligations and duties of pregnant woman, the article analyzes the issues using Hohfelds Correlatives. Part V evaluates the advisability of adopting criminal legislation that punishes women for not getting drug treatment. Part VI argues for legislation that treats drug addiction as a disease. The article reasons that by focusing on treatment, a win/win situation is created where the interest if the mother, the unborn child, and society are served. Part VII touts the advantages of the proposed legislation while Part VIII examines its practical effects. Part IX concludes by reasserting the seriousness of prenatal drug abuse and the benefits of legislation that would treat drug addiction as a disease.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Law and Health

author list (cited authors)

  • Fortney, S. S.

complete list of authors

  • Fortney, Susan Saab

publication date

  • October 2002