Alicia Beltran, 28, of Jackson, WI was taken into custody this summer after refusing to start an anti-addiction drug for an addiction she was no longer struggling with. Her real crime? Being pregnant. A Wisconsin law passed in 1998 allows child-welfare authorities to detain pregnant women who are abusing alcohol and drugs and refuse to accept treatment. It was under this law that Alicia Beltran was removed from her home on July 18th and taken to a holding cell. She spent the next several months in a treatment center far from home. During her detention, she lost her job. And throughout this entire episode, she has never tested positive for drug use. You can read more about her story in the New York Times. Amanda Marcotte also has a piece about the situation over at Slate.
Wisconsin NOW stands firmly with Alicia Beltran.
Pregnant women are not wards of the state – they are people with rights to privacy and due process, and Alicia’s rights were violated. We are horrified at this turn of events and at the impact it has had on her life, including the financial impact she has undoubtedly suffered as a result of losing her job when forced into treatment.
There is an alarming trend of criminalizing pregnant women in this country, and it has reached our state. Make no mistake: it has nothing to do with protecting pregnant women or their babies. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes the criminalization of substance abuse during pregnancy. They report that the threat of incarceration has been shown to be ineffective in reducing drug and alcohol abuse, but does deter women from seeking prenatal care that is critical to positive outcomes for mother and baby.
It should come as no surprise that the law that allowed Alicia Beltran to be removed from her home and forcibly detained for months was popular with anti-choice groups such as Wisconsin Right to Life, which pushed hard for its passage. But as Amanda Marcotte points out in her article for Slate, laws like these might actually lead to more abortions. Marcotte writes, “Beltran wanted her baby badly enough that she suffered this treatment rather than abort, but for other women, if the choice is “abort or go to jail,” abortion is going to be the easier choice. . . anti-choice activists demonstrate yet again that, given a choice between reducing the abortion rate or reducing women’s freedoms, they’ll pick the latter every time.”
What you can do:
Join us in standing with Alicia Beltran.
- Tweet a message of solidarity using the hash tag #StandWithAliciaBeltran. It can be a picture or just your message.
- Write a letter to your local editor expressing your support for Alicia. And send the letter to us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’ll publish it here, on our website.
- Share the New York Times Article (and this blog post) with friends and family on Facebook. This is an issue of human rights and everyone needs to know what’s happening here in Wisconsin.
- Keep checking back here for updates on this situation and more ways you can help.