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Criminalizing Pregnancy: As Roe v. Wade Turns 40, Study Finds Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women

A new study shows hundreds of women in the United States have been arrested, forced to undergo unwanted medical procedures, and locked up in jails or psychiatric institutions, because they were pregnant. National Advocates for Pregnant Women found 413 cases when pregnant women were deprived of their physical liberty between 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided, and 2005. At least 250 more interventions have taken place since then. In one case, a court ordered a critically ill woman in Washington, D.C., to undergo a C-section against her will. Neither she nor the baby survived. In another case, a judge in Ohio kept a woman imprisoned to prevent her from having an abortion. We’re joined by Lynn Paltrow, founder and executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. "We’ve had cases where lawyers have been appointed for a fetus before the woman herself, who’s been locked up, ever gets a lawyer," Paltrow says. "[We’ve had] cases where they’ve ordered a procedure over women’s religious objections, and one court said, pregnant women of course have a right to religious freedom — unless it interferes with what we believe is best for the fetus or embryo." The new study comes on the eve of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision on the right to abortion — a right that has been under siege ever since.

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