Atheists Concerned for America: The Question of what to do with Pregnant Women that Smoke, Drink, or use Illegal Substances...



"Why Pregnant Women who Smoke, Drink, or use Illegal Drugs should be Criminally Charged: the Perils of such Risk-taking Activities on a Developing Fetus"

By Jordan "BluntJoey" Adorno

Although a child is yet to be fully developed while still a fetus in the womb, the pregnant mother's choices can have substantial impact on the quality of that hypothetical life nonetheless. Specifically, smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, or even taking illegal substances during pregnancy can consequently cause irreversible damage on the life of the unborn child. A prospective mother who willingly engages in these behaviors therefore makes a selfish choice. What kind of woman smokes, drinks, or takes illegal drugs during pregnancy when doing so could negatively impact the growth of her unborn child (growing "fetus", if one must prefer), and often to remarkable levels of severity at that? Taking such irresponsible action is reprehensible and, yes, generally frowned upon, but notwithstanding, engaging in these ill-fated behaviors while pregnant is perfectly legal (except for the 'illegal substance' aspect, obviously)! Circular logic that essentially comes down to weighing a woman's right to 'her own body' against the welfare of the unborn child has, in culmination, left no legal precedence by which to prosecute pregnant women who behave in such manners - even if the result is a permanently disabled, innocent newborn life.

To begin, it is a concrete, proved fact of medicine that smoking, for starters, does not cease to be harmful at the level of the pregnant woman. It just as well is extremely harmful to the developing fetus in her womb. In fact, according to the highly credible medical association known as The Health Unit, "Each cigarette smoked by a pregnant woman denies the unborn baby of 20 minutes of the proper amount of oxygen needed by the baby to grow and develop." How startling it is to imagine an expectant mother actually smoking when one considers just this single fact alone! But nevertheless, the disturbing facts far from stop there. A second most alarming repercussion of smoking when pregnant is newborns with dangerously low birth weights. Although some may not view an infant's birth weight as being of significant importance in the overall scheme of things, they are very mistaken. Babies born at low birth weights are exponentially likelier to face problems all throughout childhood development, ranging from poorer vision (up to and including blindness in severest cases) and anaemia (which is a syndrome marked by an absence of sufficient red blood cells) to the unbelievable great extreme of brain damage. But preceding each and every one of these detriments altogether (and more) in the first place, pregnant women who smoke are by default twice as likely to miscarry, even likelier to have a premature birth, and overall significantly increase the risk of birthing a child who will suffer SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). All in all, these glaring facts greatly reassert the point that there should be a criminal precedent in which serious legal consequences can await women who choose to take these risks and smoke anyway. (See more: "Preconception/Pregnancy - Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drug Use in Pregnancy".)

Secondly, the perils of drinking during pregnancy have proved to be the source of even greater risks and consequences. For decades it has been a constantly reasserted fact that drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects, FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome), or, once again, a full miscarriage altogether. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the most well-known consequence of drinking while pregnant, likely because the suffering that the afflicted child suffers for the rest of their life solely because of his or her mother's selfish choices are, to say the least, an ABOMINATION. According to data from an article featured on renowned medical website WebMD - and which only details information supported by the professional review of Laura J. Martin, MD, respectively - characteristics of FAS, "...[R]ange from mild to severe and include speech and language delays, learning disabilities, abnormal facial features, small head size, and many other problems." But despite these already heartbreaking details, WebMD in addition illuminates a study done by the CDC regarding the proportion of pregnant women who drink, which empirically resolved that, "Whatever the risks, about one in eight pregnant women in the U.S. report drinking at least one alcoholic beverage in the past month." Reading this statistic, which of course has been found by a very credible source's study, is bamboozling to say the least: how could one out of every eight pregnant women - meaning an approximate 12.5 %, to emphasize numbers - consume alcohol when doing so essentially means willingly allowing your unborn child to consume it, too (WebMD, "Alcohol and Pregnancy: Is 'A Little Bit' Safe?")?! Nonetheless, it is crucial to denote that from studies like these there comes the common misconception that the overwhelming majority of that 12.5% likely drank seldom, and that the research doesn't translate into an accurate correlation with the real world; indeed, the misconception wholesomely becomes that these studies, alongside unapologetic advocates of illegalizing these risky behaviors during pregnancies (such as myself), mislead the public by sensationalizing an exacerbated prevalence of the issue in everyday life. This could not be more false, sufficiently disprovable alone with citation of a single irrefutable fact that, believe it or not, surmounts all: According to the Department of Health and Services, in the United States alone, each year 40,000 children are born with the lifetime-debilitating ailment of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome ("Pregnancy and Alcohol", In reaffirmation of the severe dangers posed by alcohol to the fetus, it is uniformly agreed upon among all mainstream scientific institutions, including the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Department of Health and Human Services, of primary respects (as well as any legit. physician) - that pregnant women should not drink at all ("Drinking Alcohol in Pregnancy", ACOG; "Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Prevention Toolkit for Women's Health Care Providers", Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control).

Does women's rights to "their own bodies" still sound light years more important than the care-take of the developing fetus and, eventually, a precious, innocent newborn life?

In conclusion, it should be illegal to smoke or drink when pregnant. It has nothing to do with abortion rights. (I'm Pro-Choice.) The severe, often PERMANENT damage caused to the fate of the unborn child's life is too detrimental to allow pregnant women the right to continue exhibiting these behaviors without fear of consequence; it cannot be dismissed that smoking, drinking, and use of illegal drugs greatly jeopardize the welfare of a developing fetus, be it convenient to accept or not. Are hazardous "pastimes" like smoking and drinking, which are done on sheer behalf of one's own selfishness, deserving of more value than the life of the not-yet-born child, whose entire survival depends upon the womb in which it is being carried!? Overall, it remains most beautifully summed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, whose medical scholars state boldly, "Exposure to alcohol during pregnancy causes damage to the brain and affects the child's behavior, these effects can be prevented by 100 percent." ("Drinking Alcohol in Pregnancy"). Whether it's abuse of an infant, toddler, teenager, adult, or a feeble, still-developing fetus who deserves nothing but adequate health upon birth - abuse is abuse no matter who commits it, or why.

End of story.