A study by Lynn Paltrow (National Advocates for Pregnant Women) and Jeanne Flavin (Fordham University) recently published in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law elucidates a decades-long strategy to marry the War on Drugs and anti-abortion activism where low-income African-American pregnant women are—if not the primary targets—the majority affected. Paltrow and Flavin identified over 400 cases from post-Roe 1973 to 2005 involving women of all races, in which the fact that a woman was pregnant provided an opportunity for major violations to her physical liberty. African-American women represented more than half of these cases. According to Paltrow, this is the new “Jane Crow.”
In order to arrest, incarcerate, and institutionalize pregnant women for legal acts like “noncompliance” with a doctor’s orders, prosecutors distort state homicide, child abuse, and “feticide” laws—the latter meant to protect pregnant women from violence. As a result, many women have endured gross violations of their privacy, religious liberty, and suffered from infection, wrongful conviction, and even death.