NY Times story: Wisconsin woman confined with no legal representation under state fetal law

There is so much that is downright terrifying in the story of what happened to a Jackson, Wisconsin woman this July.

Alicia Beltran cried with fear and disbelief when county sheriffs surrounded her home on July 18 and took her in handcuffs to a holding cell.

She was 14 weeks pregnant and thought she had done the right thing when, at a prenatal checkup, she described a pill addiction the previous year and said she had ended it on her own — something later verified by a urine test. But now an apparently skeptical doctor and a social worker accused her of endangering her unborn child because she had refused to accept their order to start on an anti-addiction drug.

Ms. Beltran, 28, was taken in shackles before a family court commissioner who, she says, brushed aside her pleas for a lawyer. To her astonishment, the court had already appointed a legal guardian for the fetus.

“I didn’t know unborn children had lawyers,” recalled Ms. Beltran, now six months pregnant, after returning to her home north of Milwaukee from a court-ordered 78-day stay at a drug treatment center. “I said, ‘Where’s my lawyer?’ …. ”

Please do continue to the New York Times to read Case Explores Rights of Fetus Versus Mother in full.

You can learn more about the federal lawsuit that NAPW has filed on behalf of Alicia Beltran at “First Fed Challenge To Pregnant Woman’s Arrest Under “Personhood”-Like Measure

This next link takes you to the Wisconsin legislature’s documentation on the “cocaine mom” law, which authorities say justifies the maltreatment of Alicia Beltran:

Note this provision in the law:
“Unborn child” means a human being from the time of fertilization to the time of birth.

“This kind of dangerous, authoritarian state-action, is exactly what happens when laws give police officers and other state actors the authority to treat fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses as if they are already completely separate from the pregnant woman.”
— Lynn Paltrow, Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women


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