STAT

Opinion: Pregnant women with substance use disorders need treatment, not prison

Source: Eric Gay/AP

More than 210,000 women spent Mother’s Day 2019 in America’s prisons and jails.

Two-thirds of them are mothers of young children; an unknown number are pregnant. Many of them have substance use disorders with a significant history of trauma and mental health problems. Some have been incarcerated solely for the alleged crime of substance use during pregnancy, and many have lost custody of their children because there aren’t enough treatment centers for women and their kids.

Pregnant women with substance use disorders inside and outside of prisons and jails are struggling, and many are dying. The 2017 found that 1 in 12 pregnant women had used an illicit and of all deaths during pregnancy. The number of newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome has in 28 states in the last 20 years.

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