Pregnant Ex-Addict Fights Law That Got Her Confined

After being hauled away in cuffs, Alicia Beltran challenges fetal protection law
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2013 10:34 AM CDT
Pregnant Ex-Addict Fights Law That Got Her Confined

When asked about her medical history during a prenatal checkup this July, Alicia Beltran was honest. She said she'd become addicted to Percocet last year, but had weened herself off it using the anti-addiction drug Suboxone, which she had finally stopped taking three days before her appointment. No, she told the physician's assistant, she didn't need more Suboxone; she was clean. A urine test confirmed that. But two weeks later a social worker showed up at her door, insisting the 28-year-old restart Suboxone treatments. She refused, and two days later police surrounded her home and took her to jail, the New York Times reports.

When she appeared in chains before a family court commissioner, Beltran was told she couldn't have a lawyer—but that a legal guardian had already been appointed for her fetus. Beltran was forced into in-patient drug rehab for 78 days, losing her job in the process. All this was legal, thanks to Wisconsin's "cocaine mom" act, which allows authorities to incarcerate pregnant women who refuse substance abuse treatment. Now, Beltran's case is the centerpiece of a federal suit challenging that law, and similar laws across the country. Read the Times' full piece for more on the law, and the suit. (More pregnant women stories.)

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