Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Yes, this happened in Aotearoa New Zealand

Thanks to Women's Health Action Trust for allowing me to re-publish this media release here.  It refers to this case in the media last week.

Criminisalising pregnancy no solution

‘Jailing women in the interests of foetal protection cannot be justified on either human rights nor public health grounds and sets a dangerous precedent’ says Christy Parker, Senior Policy Analyst of Women’s Health Action Trust.

Ms Parker was responding to reports this morning of the jailing of a New Plymouth woman in the interests of protecting her ‘unborn baby’ from harm.

‘Women’s Health Action strongly supports steps being taken to ensure good outcomes for women and their babies when they are risk of harm. However the criminalisation of conduct during pregnancy has not been shown to improve outcomes and has been condemned within international human rights forums’ Ms Parker states.

‘Making women fear prosecution for various types of behaviour during pregnancy has been shown
to be a barrier to accessing health and social services that support women to improve outcomes for
themselves and their families. This has recently been highlighted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, in his report to the United Nations. Mr Grover states in his report, ‘it has been well documented that the public health goals are not realised through criminalistion; rather they are often undermined by it’. In addition, States are obligated to ensure that interests in protecting prenatal life are consistent with the fundamental human rights of women and do not perpetuate discrimination against women’ states Ms Parker.

‘The issue here is not about the details of this particular case but rather a trend towards foetal
protection and the criminalisation of pregnancy in Aotearoa New Zealand. As interest grows in the
outcomes of the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children, we need to be thinking carefully about how
to best support good outcomes for women and their babies. Punitive measures that further isolate
women and that risk undermining their human rights should be treated with caution’.

More on Women's Health Action Trust can be found at their website.

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