Analysis of state-compelled loss of liberty as an intervention to reduce the harm of perinatal substance abuse and addiction

The Foundation's Substance Abuse Policy Research Program was designed to provide support for investigators to conduct policy research on a variety of subjects directed at helping the country reduce the harm caused by substance abuse.Estimates indicate that 10 to 20 percent of pregnant women in the United State have used illegal drugs and exposed their fetuses to the drugs' effects. Many other women use legal substances, such as alcohol and tobacco, which harm fetuses. The state has in the past and continues to use compulsion to take away the liberty of persons involved in substance abuse and addiction with the goals of preventing harm to children, to the abuser herself and to society, and of deterring use. The purpose of this project is to foster more ethically and legally informed policy making by states, law enforcement officials, and child welfare agencies contemplating compulsory intervention in the lives of pregnant substance abusers and substance abusing parents. Specifically, the project will identify and analyze the legal and ethical issues raised by: (1) the criminalization of substance abuse by pregnant women; (2) involuntary civil commitment of substance abusing pregnant women; and (3) state removal of a child from a parent's custody as a result of parental substance abuse. Results will be disseminated widely in the form of: (1) a final report, (2) at least two articles for publication, and (3) a presentation of findings and conclusions at a professional meeting.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $99,404.00

Awarded on: 11/25/1996

Time frame: 12/1/1996 - 7/31/1998

Grant Number: 30790


Medical University of South Carolina

Colcock Hall
179 Ashley Avenue
Charleston, 29425-0010


Mary Faith Marshall
Project Director