Federal Suit Challenges Pregnant Woman's Arrest Under Personhood-Like Law
Attorneys for Wisconsin woman Alicia Beltran filed a petition in federal court this week seeking her immediate release from state custody. The suit challenges the constitutionality of a 1997 state law that gives Wisconsin courts jurisdiction over any pregnant woman who "habitually lacks self-control" in using alcohol or drugs "to a severe degree" such that the physical health of her "unborn child" will be "seriously affected or endangered."
Beltran was arrested after she sought early prenatal care and told health care workers about her prior use of painkillers and her attempts to stop use on her own. Instead of receiving support, she was arrested in July 2013, when she was only 15 weeks pregnant. Beltran was brought to court in shackles for her initial hearing, and without a right to counsel, she had no attorney for her initial hearing--even though an attorney had been appointed to represent her fetus. Without hearing any testimony from a medical expert, the court ordered Beltran to be detained at an inpatient drug treatment program two hours from her home.
The petition argues that there have been numerous violations of constitutional rights, including the right to physical liberty, the right to due process notice, and privacy in medical decision-making, among several others. This is the first constitutional challenge to such a law. Statements from medical experts supporting the petition say the arrest and detention of Beltran actually increases risk to the pregnancy and has no medical justification.
9/12/2014 Violence Against Women Act Turns 20 - Saturday will be the 20th Anniversary of the groundbreaking federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Passed in 1994, VAWA was the first piece of federal legislation to specifically address domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes and to provide federal funding to improve local response to violence against women, including training and resources for law enforcement and judges.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday issued a proclamation commemorating the VAWA anniversary. . . .
9/12/2014 Indiana Woman Charged With Feticide For Premature Delivery - An Indiana woman has been charged with feticide after she delivered prematurely and sought hospital treatment.
Purvi Patel, 33, sought help at an emergency room for vaginal bleeding where it was discovered that she had delivered prematurely at home. . . .