» Public Health Where the World Finds Bioethics Tue, 22 Apr 2014 22:10:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Cloning advance using stem cells from human adult reopens ethical questions Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:51:04 +0000 0 Bullying leaves scars into middle age Mon, 21 Apr 2014 22:42:53 +0000 0 Surge in Narcotic Prescriptions for Pregnant Women Fri, 18 Apr 2014 18:17:50 +0000 0 Manslaughter conviction for ‘negligent breastfeeding’ puts other mums at risk Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:12:34 +0000 0 Tobacco on TV tied to adult smoking rates Wed, 16 Apr 2014 18:13:14 +0000 0 New Tools for HIV Prevention: Why I am a Truvada Whore Thu, 10 Apr 2014 20:09:06 +0000 ]]> 0 Artistic Inquiry: Obesity on Stage in Boston Thu, 10 Apr 2014 13:27:55 +0000 0 US jury orders Takeda, Eli Lilly to pay $9 billion in damages over Actos Wed, 09 Apr 2014 10:31:23 +0000 0 Guidance published on informing study participants about findings with potential health implications Wed, 02 Apr 2014 18:17:26 +0000 0 Smoking bans can help kids’ health, researchers say Mon, 31 Mar 2014 19:55:12 +0000 0 CDC: 1 in 68 U.S. children has autism Thu, 27 Mar 2014 21:38:05 +0000 0 Marijuana pills and sprays ease MS symptoms Tue, 25 Mar 2014 18:53:36 +0000 0 Air Pollution Kills 7 Million People Every Year, World Health Organization Report Finds Tue, 25 Mar 2014 18:51:50 +0000 0 Hawaii police urge lawmakers to let undercover cops have sex with prostitutes Fri, 21 Mar 2014 18:46:20 +0000 0 10 Happy Ways to Celebrate the International Day of Happiness Thu, 20 Mar 2014 17:44:58 +0000 0 My Neighborhood Makes It Easier to Get Pregnant Than To Go To College Thu, 20 Mar 2014 17:43:01 +0000 0 The Ethics of Advertising for Health Care Services Wed, 19 Mar 2014 19:26:00 +0000 0 Ethics and Empiricism in the Formation of Professional Guidelines Wed, 19 Mar 2014 19:10:58 +0000 0 Military wife drops more than 100 pounds to surprise husband Mon, 17 Mar 2014 23:03:09 +0000 0 Saturated fat advice ‘unclear’ Mon, 17 Mar 2014 23:01:46 +0000 0 Americans believe marijuana is LESS harmful than sugar, says new survey Thu, 13 Mar 2014 19:47:18 +0000 0 In a bad mood? Your social networks might be to blame Thu, 13 Mar 2014 19:44:00 +0000 0 New Clues To Why Traffic Pollution Is So Bad For The Heart Mon, 10 Mar 2014 18:42:29 +0000 0 Free Birth Control Not Associated With Risky Sexual Behavior Mon, 10 Mar 2014 18:38:54 +0000 0 Planned Parenthood, Tucson gynecologist, fighting tighter regulations on abortion drugs Wed, 05 Mar 2014 20:04:39 +0000 0 Childhood secondhand smoke exposure damages arteries Wed, 05 Mar 2014 19:51:04 +0000 0 Smoking tied to changes in the structure of teen brains Mon, 03 Mar 2014 21:20:55 +0000 0 Giant virus revived from deep freeze in Siberian tundra Mon, 03 Mar 2014 21:04:14 +0000 0 New APA autism guidelines ‘reduce diagnosis by more than 30%’ Wed, 26 Feb 2014 17:54:04 +0000 0 Obesity Drops Among Young Children in U.S., Report Says Wed, 26 Feb 2014 17:51:44 +0000 0 Overlooked Virus May Be Cause Of Paralyzing Disease In California Tue, 25 Feb 2014 20:20:25 +0000 0 Criminalization of Drinking While Pregnant in UK? Mon, 24 Feb 2014 02:52:00 +0000 plans to bring legal action to establish liability for criminal damages by women who drink while pregnant, with resultant damage to their newborns. A tribunal in 2011 had ruled that a child had sustained personal injury "directly attributable to a crime of violence," and so was eligible for a payment from its mother. The holding came in spite of the fact that the mother had never been criminally convicted. The court simply held that, regardless of the lack of prosecution or conviction in her case, she had in fact committed the crime of maliciously administering poison so as to inflict grievous bodily harm, a crime under section 23 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. The upper tribunal of the Administrative Appeals Chamber reversed the holding, however. (The opinion can be downloaded here.) The Appeals Chamber agreed that there had been “administration of a poison or other destructive or noxious thing, so as thereby to inflict grievous bodily harm,” but found that the fetus who was damaged by the mother's drinking was not a "person" in legal terms at the time of her injury. The case now goes to the Court of Appeal.

It's important to recognize that the case at bar would set precedent for cases quite unlike it in the future. In the case at bar, adoptive parents of a child damaged by fetal alcohol syndrome are seeking payments from the child's biological mother--payments due them pursuant to criminal law. But if drinking-while-pregnant is criminal, the ordinary case of prosecution in the future may look rather different. It will involve not payment of damages by a biological mother to a third-party adoptive parent, but imprisonment of a new mother shortly after her child's birth.

Criminalization of drinking-while-pregnant seems like a terrible idea. It is obviously true that drinking while pregnant can damage one's fetus. It is also obviously true that the majority of women who drink while pregnant do not thereby damage their fetuses. The relevant studies seem to show no genuinely "safe" level of drinking during pregnancy, but also show that significant drinking during pregnancy often results in no harm to the fetus. In these circumstances--and given the addictive nature of alcohol--can it really be true that criminalization of drinking-while-pregnant is really the best, or even a reasonably good, method of reducing harm to fetuses from maternal drinking?

Criminalization will make it difficult for pregnant women to speak to their physicians or nurses about their drinking habits. Threat of criminal prosecution for drinking could be used as a lever against pregnant women by abusive men. Criminalization will subject visibly-pregnant women not only to prosecution, but also to public abuse and accusations from strangers, even though the actual danger to fetuses from moderate later-term drinking is minimal.

Women should be informed of the dangers to their fetuses of drinking. Alcoholic pregnant women should be offered help. The state's money is better spent on public service announcements and counseling sessions than on prosecutions and jail-cells. I'm guessing that no one who knows that drinking during pregnancy might damage her child, but who drinks anyway, does so with malicious intent, or does so without regard to the dangers to her child. People who don't know the damage they may be causing, or who simply cannot stop their drinking due to addiction, need help rather than punishment.

]]> 0
Sitting linked to increased risk for disability, study shows Wed, 19 Feb 2014 19:19:06 +0000 0 New York State to Limit Use of Solitary Confinement Wed, 19 Feb 2014 19:15:29 +0000 0 Doctors fear kids’ brain disorders tied to industrial chemicals Tue, 18 Feb 2014 22:52:25 +0000 0 LIBERTY AND WHERE NOSES BEGIN–AN OPEN LETTER TO: The ACLU of Rhode Island Concerning Mandating Flu Vaccinations for Very Young Children Entering Daycare and Kindergarden Fri, 14 Feb 2014 20:00:09 +0000 From: Arthur Caplan and Dorit Reiss

SUBJECT: requiring the vaccination of children and workers in daycare and pre-K against the flu

In recent testimony submitted to the Public Health Department of Rhode Island, a representative of the Rhode Island ACLU spoke against the requirement to vaccinate Rhode Island’s children age six months to 5 years of age against the flu in order to enter daycare or pre-kindergarten. Under the rule, annual influenza vaccination would be mandatory for all children between 6 months and 59 months before entering preschool or day care programs.…

]]> 0
Vast Study Casts Doubts on Value of Mammograms Wed, 12 Feb 2014 21:02:15 +0000 0 Teen Pregnancy Rates Much Higher for Girls With Serious Mental Illness: Study Mon, 10 Feb 2014 23:44:47 +0000 0 Why You Should Care That CVS Will Stop Selling Cigarettes, Even if You’re Not a Smoker Thu, 06 Feb 2014 20:53:24 +0000 0 Thank The Pill For Abortion Rate Drop Mon, 03 Feb 2014 19:49:45 +0000 0 ‘Miscarriage Management’: The Next Front in the Abortion Wars Sat, 01 Feb 2014 19:53:21 +0000 0 Drug traffickers deal lethal blow to Central American forests, study says Fri, 31 Jan 2014 20:47:20 +0000 0 Obama Says Easing Marijuana Restrictions a Job for Congress Fri, 31 Jan 2014 19:42:07 +0000 0 We Are Giving Ourselves Cancer Fri, 31 Jan 2014 19:37:44 +0000 0 Calling Obesity a Disease May Have ‘Boomerang Effect’ Thu, 30 Jan 2014 22:01:28 +0000 0 Antioxidants including vitamin E can promote lung cancer: study Wed, 29 Jan 2014 20:25:09 +0000 0 Compounds in exhaled breath may detect early lung cancer Tue, 28 Jan 2014 22:07:33 +0000 0 Sex, pregnancy poorly understood by women Mon, 27 Jan 2014 22:46:49 +0000 0 Sunshine may chase the blood pressure woes away Thu, 23 Jan 2014 23:02:52 +0000 0 Too Much Sitting Leads to Increased Heart Risk, Researchers Warn Tue, 21 Jan 2014 17:59:10 +0000 0