testing newborns for marijuana?

So it seems that United States hospitals- where else would this happen?!- are testing newborns for marijuana exposure.

Aside from being fucking stupid- excuse the language- and a total invasion of privacy, it turns out that the results are fairly inconsistent begging the question: what is causing the false positives for THC and why do hospitals continue to try and “nail” moms with criminal charges of neglect, abuse, and such when they’re likely wrong in their accusation? What the fuck is up with these tyrannical fascist witch hunts on moms and cannabis?

I already dislike hospitals for the experience they deprive women of during birth and an unforgivably high cesarean rate without the trampling of personal rights. Hospitals are continually abusing their power as caregivers as this THC fiasco shows. Women aren’t consulted about what tests they would like their nurses to perform, they aren’t given information about the complications (or legal implications) and often these tests or interventions are performed without permission, or even worse, with the trust that hospitals are trying to prevent serious illness from occurring in their child by testing the baby’s urine for disease (in this case). Women trust they’re in good hands only to be put through this rig-a-ma-role ending with criminal charges (erroneously or not) against them literally days after birth.

Way to tear families apart- way to disrupt the incredibly crucial bonding time between a mother and her child and way to keep hurting mothers and children in hospital care. What a disgusting abuse of power.

Don’t get me wrong here folks, I’m not saying you should be smoking pot during pregnancy. However, you could be doing a lot worse things than smoking (marijuana, not cigarettes- sorry, can’t get behind the ciggies) including drinking alcohol even once a week, which has been implicated in affecting child health (specifically IQ) regardless of whether it’s one glass or more during pregnancy. Heavy drinking, heavy cigarette smoking, and of course heavy drug use (like methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin) have all been linked to some pretty terrible birth outcomes and effects. However, they just can’t prove there’s anything wrong with marijuana to the same extent (or any) like with the other drugs of varying legal statuses. I can’t help but suspect that with increased acceptance of marijuana, those in power want to increase their grip on the anti-drug sentiment that terrorizes the nation by forcing such ridiculous tests on the populace. Because let’s face it, something they deem wrong must be as evil as it feels. Nevermind that marijuana’s legal status was revoked due to racism and erroneous fears tied in with opium and cocaine use.

And of course, what would be the point in drug testing a mother if it weren’t racist in application with black mothers’ offspring 1.5x more likely to be tested than whites? So is it the marijuana they hate? Or the people they think are smoking it?

Additionally, the blaming mothers for the state of their babies is really a disturbing trend. If anything is wrong with the baby at all, it’s somehow blamed on the mother even though it’s been shown that sperm health can affect children and always the environment in which the woman was pregnant. (one, two, three) There are so many factors that go into creating a person it’s really quite unfair to blame a mother for any fetal abnormalities or subsequent challenges her child may face. It could be all that unlabelled GMO in the food supply but you wouldn’t see Monsanto being held accountable for that, now would you? It’s always the mothers’ fault that their babies are messed up even if it’s really not.

With that said, I’ve got two words for you:


Of course that’s really just ignoring the over-arching problem of systemic racism and sexism. You can turn your back on the status quo and birth in peace- which you should for many reasons another blog post can cover- but that won’t change the fact that women are being blamed for everything, that they are being witchhunted for ridiculous drug-related ignorances, and that women of color- mothers-of-color— are continually being targeted more than their (non colored?) counterparts. Women deserve better, mothers definitely deserve better, and above all our children deserve better! This is so uncool and demonstrative of the over-arching system of blame and slut-shaming that tyrannizes this culture.

For more on this (complete with handy links), go check out the story at Alternet: Why Are We Testing Newborns for Pot? by Paul Armentano.

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