Feminism: Everything About This Article Terrifies Me

[Content Note: Hostility to agency and consent; addiction; medical malfeasance.]

Here is a sequence of events as I understand them:

1. Alicia Beltran, who is pregnant, helpfully informed her doctor during a prenatal visit that prior to her pregnancy she had lived with and eventually overcome a pill addiction to prescription pain meds.

2. The physician didn't believe her that the addiction was over and pressured her to get on an expensive prescription (which Ms. Beltran cannot afford) which would block the opiates that Ms. Beltran isn't taking.

3. After Ms. Beltran reused to take the prescription, the physician sent a social worker to her home unannounced. The social worker threatened Ms. Beltran with a court order if she wouldn't take the prescription.

4. After Ms. Beltran told the social worker to leave, the social worker sent county sheriffs to surround her home and take her to a jail cell in handcuffs.

5. Ms. Beltran was taken to a family court and was denied a lawyer or legal representation of any kind. (Her fetus was given a legal advocate, though! Because of course it did!)

6. One Dr. Breckenridge, who has not examined or even met in person Ms. Beltran, testified to the court that Ms. Beltran lacks self-control and should be incarcerated or the child will die.
“She exhibits lack of self-control and refuses the treatment we have offered her,” wrote Dr. Breckenridge, who, according to Ms. Beltran, had not personally met or examined her. She recommended “a mandatory inpatient drug treatment program or incarceration,” adding, “The child’s life depends on action in this case.”

7. I will note here in response to Dr. Breckenridge's medical opinion, that since Ms. Beltran was only 14 weeks pregnant at this stage, and the Wisconsin limit on abortions is 24 weeks, Ms. Beltran should still have a legal right to termination, should she so choose.

8. The court threatened to send Ms. Beltran to jail if she didn't submit to confinement to a treatment center; Ms. Beltran was placed in the treatment center until October 4th. (She was arrested on July 18th.)

9. Ms. Beltran has lost her job as a result of all this and is looking for temporary work. Her very real fear at the moment, besides not being able to find work, is that the government will take her baby away after it is born.

So just to be very clear, if you are pregnant in the U.S., it is entirely possible for your physician to accuse you of drug use (despite a clean urine test) and incarcerate you until your due date (at which point the baby may be taken from you against your will) and all without you ever being allowed to so much as speak to a lawyer or legal advocate.

I don't know what to add to that except an expression of personal terror and a hope that Alicia Beltran and her child remain safe and together. I am horrified to live in a society which has so thoroughly tried to strip her of her personal agency.


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