Group pushes back against Wisconsin ‘Cocaine Mom’ law

MADISON — A group opposed to a Wisconsin law that is designed to protect a developing fetus from a mother’s alcohol or drug use is taking the fight outside the courtroom in hopes of gaining ground in the court of public opinion.

The a new national group called Reproaction is planning informational pickets, a social media campaign and educational forums across the state in the coming months to push back against the so-called “Cocaine Mom” law, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

The Unborn Child Protection Act, enacted in 1998, allows the state to detain adult pregnant women suspected of abusing drugs.

Critics of the law say the language is too vague and that some pregnant women who aren’t using harmful substances are forced into treatment. Supporters say they’re skeptical of the claims that the law is broad and ineffective.

“This law only harms women and children,” said Nancy Rosenbloom an attorney with National Advocates for Pregnant Women.

Rosenbloom said medical and public health groups oppose the law because it discourages women who are pregnant and struggling with addiction from seeking prenatal care or other forms of health care.

“I have not heard anything that would make me think that law enforcement is abusing or misusing this law, especially with this incredible increase in drug use with the opioid crisis, there’s just so much risk right now,” said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action.

A federal judge last year found the Wisconsin law to be unconstitutional. But Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel appealed the ruling and the U.S. Supreme Court later ruled the state can continue to enforce the law.