The reproductive justice organization Young Women United, which recently helped defeat the 20-week abortion ban proposed in Albuquerque, is launching a new public education campaign around pregnancy and addiction. They’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign to fundraise for a short documentary video to “shift the ways we understand substance use and addiction in our communities.”
Women who are substance using and pregnant at the same time face a criminal (in) justice system that only serves to shame and stigmatize addiction. Mothers who use are often judged and told they must love their drugs more than their kids or that if they really loved their kids they would simply stop using. We want to make a short video to highlight the powerful stories of strength and resiliency of our communities and shed light on the lived realities of people who struggle with addiction every day. By challenging exiting narratives around parenting and addiction, we hope to demonstrate the need for increased access to prenatal care and treatment for women who are pregnant and substance using.
This is an important shift. As Vero wrote last year, “Drug use still largely remains in the public imagination as an issue to be treated with punishment rather than health care, and harm reduction policies are controversial despite clear clinical evidence of their success as public health initiatives.” And it has only gotten worse thanks to the the anti-choice movement’s “personhood” push. Despite the fact that such initiatives continue to fail wherever they’re proposed, the underlying principle–that fetuses have full and separate legal rights–has already worked its way into the legal system, criminalizing those women who are most vulnerable to the abuses of the legal system–mainly poor women of color–simply for being pregnant.
To create their public education campaign, which will launch on Mother’s Day, Young Women United brought together 30 women who had previously been pregnant and substance using at the same time and compiled their stories into a report to push public officials to create better prenatal care and treatment policy. Can’t wait to see the video they put together.
Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.