“Take a Valium, Lose Your Kid, Go to Jail”

During pregnancy “occasional, small doses of diazepam (the generic name for Valium) are considered safe… But one morning a few weeks later, when Shehi was back at her job in a nursing home and the baby was with a sitter, investigators from the Etowah County [Alabama] Sheriff’s Office showed up at the front desk with a warrant. She had been charged with ‘knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally’ causing her baby to be exposed to controlled substances in the womb — a felony punishable in her case by up to 10 years in prison. The investigators led her to an unmarked car, handcuffed her and took her to jail.” [Nina Martin, ProPublica]

P.S. Expanded into a longer post at Cato at Liberty.


  • This woman shouldn’t have taken a Valium while pregnant without a prescription (or at any time for that matter). But the punishment far exceeded the crime. One day of sitting in a classroom watching boring movies about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs would have been more appropriate, with no arrest or criminal charges.

    What’s even more disturbing is that a real and present danger–obesity–is tolerated and accepted. Obese women, which are now 1/3 of the population (with another 1/3 being overweight) pose severe dangers to their unborn and newborn children. Yet it’s not politically correct to criticize the fat, despite their huge costs and burdens they impose on the Taxpayers.

    The Government should go after the biggest harms that will save the most lives, using pure economic principles, and not go after people who it is politically expedient to prosecute.

    • Ah, the will to power. When people talk in terms of obesity being “tolerated,” you’ve lost me and, hopefully, every other freedom loving person. What happened here was an abuse because the statute wasn’t violated–the valium is safe in small quantities.

    • [b] Yet it’s not politically correct to criticize the fat, despite their huge costs and burdens they impose on the Taxpayers.[/b]

      Or Government could stop paying for health care, and let the chips fall where they may.

      May seem heartless, but if gov’t paying for healthcare is the hook that allows gov’t to dictate every other element of our lives (diet, exercise, outdoor/leisure activities, alcohol/caffeine/sugar consumption, etc) because of “costs and burdens on Taxpayers”, I’m willing to trade mandatory health insurance purchase for freedom.

    • I think Robert not only describes the problem but that the governmental solution is circular and never ending.

      After the government could not get people interested in people being overweight, they changed the definitions of obesity and being overweight. That meant a justifiable increase in governmental programs dealing with the “increased obesity” in the United States. That call to action not only cost tax dollars, it spawned new industries and new regulations. Originally “organic” had no legal defined meaning (and still has no meaning based on science,) but increased regulations costing taxpayers more and increased costs to manufacturers were passed onto consumers.

      Now the government and people who think like Robert say “this is all costing us too much and we need to have more regulations and laws.”

      Of course, the fact that the enforcement of those laws and the programs that spring from those laws will cost even more is often lost on those seeking more regulations and programs.

      On the other end, you have schools eliminating games where kids ran and jumped and played because, well, because games like “tag” are evil. So instead of running, kids bounce a ball and it is called “exercise.” Of course it isn’t, but such is the governmental mind.

      There are very few things that the government sticks its nose into that make things better and less costly.

      Most people would think that is wrong and silly. For the government, that is a feature and a raison d’etre.

      • I’m again reminded of the C.S. Lewis quote on Tyranny –

        [b]”My contention is that good men (not bad men) consistently acting upon that position (imposing “the good”) would act as cruelly and unjustly as the greatest tyrants. They might in some respects act even worse. Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under of robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber barons cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some points be satiated; but those who torment us for their own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”[/b]

  • Robert, I’m going to have to disagree. The government should not be going after people, period. It’s the crime that should be targeted and being overweight is not a crime, at least for now, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. The last thing we need is another do gooder deciding what’s in someone else’s best interest.

  • It is amazing that this woman, who had the right to actually terminate the life of her fetus (within certain conditions, including a threat to her health), is not allowed to take a medication that presents a “risk” to the very same fetus.

    Talk about arbitrary and confusing laws, and denial of equal protection.

    I also agree with the majority of the commenters that it is people like Robert who provide the fuel to drive society in the direction of tyranny. Lord (if you actually exist), please save us from all the people who want to save us.

    And I am not a right-to-life advocate, either. Not at all.