Jacob Sullum on Arresting Women for Using Drugs During Pregnancy


Jason Keisling

Given the link between alcohol consumption during pregnancy and birth defects, Jacob Sullum asks, should expectant mothers who drink be arrested for assault? If not, Sullum says, it is hard to see why Mallory Loyola was. 

Loyola, who was arrested last week after giving birth to a baby girl who tested positive for amphetamine, is the first person to be charged under a new Tennessee law that criminalizes drug consumption by pregnant women. The law is ostensibly aimed at protecting children. But Sullum says it is really about punishing what a legislator called "the worst of the worst": women who not only consume arbitrarily proscribed intoxicants but do so at a time when they are supposed to be thinking only of their future babies.