Sept. 15, 2022 – She’s not the only one. Another woman, Hali Burns, was taken to the Etowah county jail just six days after giving birth to her son, with police saying that she had tested positive for a drug used by pregnant women with opioid addictions to help manage cravings and withdrawal. When she was thrown in jail, Burns was still physically recovering from giving birth. But the jail had no facilities for her to pump or tend to her wounds. Her partner tried to bring pads and underwear to her, so that she wouldn’t have to bleed into her clothes, but Etowah county authorities wouldn’t let her have them. The risk for infection was great – the indignity was even greater.

Stories like Banks’s and Burns’s – the needless and disproportionate incarceration, the loss of freedom and recourse inflicted on them on the basis of their pregnancies, the cruelty justified by authorities as “protection” for a fetus – are becoming more common. Alabama criminalizes more women for pregnancy than any other state. Just last year, Kim Blalock, a mother of six from Florence, Alabama, was charged with a felony for filling a longstanding prescription from her doctor while pregnant. Prosecutors charged that the medication, which Blalock was taking as prescribed, could have hurt her fetus, and that she should have known not to refill it. (Blalock later gave birth to a healthy baby boy.)


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