For all the pregnant women out there with Opioid Use Disorders (OUD), The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is behind you. A recent tweet by ACOG featured a picture of two doctors and ACOG leaders urging the American Medical Association not to criminalize opioid dependent pregnant women. ACOG describes itself as “a leading voice in support of policies that help women get the care they need, when they need it.” I followed the lead of a few others and retweeted it with #HelpNotHandcuffs.
There has been a lot of talk lately about how pregnant women with Substance Use Disorders should be treated. Some people believe that when these women take drugs while pregnant, they are endangering the life of their child, therefore it’s child abuse. Others point out that abusing substances is a disorder, and an addiction is a medical problem, and therefore the mothers should not be criminalized but instead should be encouraged to go to treatment. There is strong evidence for this case, because a pregnant woman receiving treatment for drug abuse is much better than a pregnant woman in jail going through withdrawal from drug abuse. Treatment benefits the child, too. It brings up the issue of why we don’t treat addiction for what it is, a medical problem. Instead we stigmatize it and make it criminal. In this country it seems to be easier to throw the woman in jail than to spend the time and money treating her.
Now that doctors and researchers are making the move to stand behind pregnant women battling substance abuse and addiction, policy needs to catch up.