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Social Justice and Pregnant Addicted Mothers

The issue of drug addiction among pregnant mothers has been a concern among medical experts. When a pregnant mother is addicted to alcohol and drug, she may end up causing irreparable damage to the unborn child. At the time of birth, the child may have physical or mental deformities that it may be forced to live with for the rest of its life. This is very unfair not only to the unborn child but also family members who will be forced to take care of such a child. It is for this reason that some members of the society have started demanding for social justice for unborn children whose mothers are addicted to drugs or alcohol. In this paper, the researcher will try to find the best ways through which social justice can be administered as a way of deterring pregnant mothers from engaging in drug and alcohol abuse.

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According to Kinser (2010), life begins at conception. This means that an unborn child should be considered a human being that has all the rights accorded to a human being. For that matter, it is important to find ways through which the rights of an unborn child should be protected. Medical experts have scientific proof that abuse of alcohol or drugs among pregnant mothers exposes an unborn child to a series of dangers. Such a child may develop physical or mental problems while in the womb. In some extreme cases, such a child may die. It is necessary to find ways of protecting rights of such a child. Coming up with a social justice system that protects the child from harm of alcohol has been a challenge because the mother also has her own rights that should not be violated.

The research by Barusch (2012), focused on the rights that unborn children have when it comes to the issue of drug and alcohol abuse. As an expectant mother, there are some moral obligations that one is expected of as a way of protecting the well-being of the unborn child. However, the problem that we currently face is that these moral obligations are not enforceable by law. There are no laws and regulations in our country that prohibits an expectant mother from acting in a given way. The law seems to be silent about the rights of an unborn child. If fact, our current laws focus more on the rights of the mother and the freedom of choices she can make regarding her pregnancy.

Lack of clear laws and regulations has been the biggest challenge when it comes to fighting of alcoholism and drug abuse among expectant mothers. Medical experts have clearly stated that it is harmful for pregnant mothers to take alcohol, but the legal system is yet to come up with principles that these mothers should follow. It means that irresponsible mothers can still harm their children due to their abuse of alcohol and drugs and get away with it.

According to Díaz (2006), we need social justice for the unborn children. If life really begins at conception, then we need to find laws and regulations that will protect the unborn child from any harm. It is a fact that pregnant mothers also have a right to be happy and enjoy life just like other members of the society. This right should, however, not be a threat to the rights of the unborn child. We may need to compare the two rights in order to determine the one that can be considered subordinate to the other.

When a pregnant mother takes excessive amount of alcohol, chances are that the child may be subjected to a number of physical and mental harm. Sometimes this may even lead to still birth if alcohol abuse is not controlled. It is a greater evil to kill a child than to be stopped from taking alcohol for just a few months. It is also a greater evil to force a child to lead a life of mental and physical sickness then to make a mother stop taking drugs for nine months.

It is justifiable to come up with strategies that will prohibit mothers from abusing drugs and alcohol based on the above arguments. The first step towards protecting the unborn children from harm due to excessive intake of alcohol is to formulate laws. In the past, it has been difficult to protect these unborn children because of limited or unclear laws and regulations. For this reason, the best way of addressing the current problem is to come up with laws that will stipulate how a pregnant mother should care for her unborn baby.

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When coming up with these laws, it may be necessary to consult the relevant stakeholders. It will be important to note that these laws are not meant to punish pregnant mothers. When it is seen as a punishment for the pregnant mothers, then enforcing it may be a new problem that we will face after coming up with the law. Women should take a center-stage in coming up with the law that they find acceptable.

The right punishment for pregnant mothers who take excess alcohol should be a jail term of not more than ten years. However, this may be adjusted as per the suggestions given by the relevant stakeholders in the consultative forums. They may discuss appropriate punishment for first-time offenders and that for perpetual offenders. The term can be reduced to five years or less based on the extent of the crime. A jail term may seem a harsh punishment for pregnant mothers who abuse drugs and alcohol. However, it is important to appreciate the fact that they may be subjecting their children to a greater harm when they engage in substance abuse.

When coming up with social justice for the unborn babies, it is more effective to take moral and ethical approach than to take legal approach. It is easier for one to go against the law, especially in cases where one does not believe in the principle and spirit of that particular law. However, when one is made to understand the relevance of a given law or regulation, then they will appreciate why they ought to behave in a given manner (Van & Davis, 2008).

Pregnant mothers should be made to understand that when then engage in substance abuse, they not only affect their children but also all other members of the family. Their entire family will be forced to offer care to the abnormal child that will be born even in its advanced ages. This information will make them appreciate the need to protect their unborn children.


Barusch, A. S. (2012). Foundations of social policy: Social justice in human perspective. Melbourne: Cole Cengage Learning. Web.

Díaz, J. (2006). Chicana lives and criminal justice: Voices from el barrio. Texas: University of Texas Press. Web.

Kinser, A. E. (2010). Motherhood and feminism. Berkeley: Seal Press. Web.

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Van, W. & Davis, D. R. (2008). Addiction treatment: A strengths perspective. Belmont: Thomson Higher Education. Web.

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