Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I got an email from someone who "needs help"...

In running the Activist Network, I get some, um, ‘interesting’ emails on occasion. This evening, I received one titled “I NEED HELP” (the whole message was in all caps, of course — but I’ve changed that here to reduce the pain associated with reading it):
I’m trying to find out how i can get a petition started for the women that are giving birth to children that are drug babies. I want a petition started to try and get them prosecuted for doing drugs while pregnant.
Anyone who knows me will immediately identify that I hate this kind of nonsense.

But, I try to be polite to everyone, even those who promulgate evil. So, here’s what I wrote in response:
It’s already illegal to use drugs — so no new laws would be needed to prosecute drug users (pregnant or otherwise). Existing ‘endangerment’ laws could probably be applied, too.

As someone who has never done drugs (other than about half a glass of alcohol in total over my lifetime, and one puff on tobacco cigarette when I was 10) I completely oppose your position on this. Instead of targeting a symptom (people turning to drugs), let’s target the root problems — the biggest of which is poverty (although it's certainly not the only problem).

Instead of just saying “what a terrible thing to happen, they should be punished” let’s ask why it happens. What causes people to turn to drugs? What leads people to be on drugs when they’re having kids? And most importantly: What can we do to reduce drug use, especially for those who might have kids?

Criminalization doesn’t stop the problem — drug use seems to ironically go up as laws get tighter. Alcohol prohibition was a tragic failure — why would we think that the prohibition of any other drugs would be successful? I really wish prohibition could work — I see drugs as a vile scourge and tool of oppression — but the sad fact is that prohibition doesn’t work and actually makes things worse.

Finally, when it comes to negative impacts on pregnancies, it’s not just women — it has also been shown that the sperm of men who smoke, drink, or do other drugs can contribute to birth defects.

In any case, to answer your question, there is a brief petitions guide at:

(Please keep in mind that most people see ALL CAPS text in email as rude shouting — so you might want to ‘tone it down’ when seeking the help of others.)
Wasn’t that a nice, fair, response?


Post a Comment