Constitutional Law

Pregnant woman confined under fetal protection law challenges its constitutionality

  • Print


Image from Shutterstock.

A pregnant woman confined to a drug treatment center under a Wisconsin fetal protection law is challenging its constitutionality in a federal lawsuit.

Alicia Beltran was confined for 78 days as a result of a court order, the New York Times reports. She says her troubles began after she told her doctor she was addicted to a painkiller last year but she had managed to end the drug use with the help of a friend’s prescription for Suboxone. She refused a new prescription for the anti-addiction drug, leading to her July 18 arrest.

A urine test confirmed she was not taking painkillers, the story says. The National Advocates for Pregnant Women has a press release about the suit (PDF).

Wisconsin is one of four states—the others are Minnesota, Oklahoma and South Dakota—with laws that specifically authorize the confinement of pregnant women for substance abuse, the Times says. Other states rely on different laws to force the confinement of women to protect the fetus, or to punish drug-abusing pregnant women.

The suit claims several constitutional violations, including violation of the right to counsel, physical liberty, due process, privacy, equal protection, and to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

Related coverage: “Drug-abusing pregnant women may be prosecuted under endangerment law, Ala. Supreme Court says”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.