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Wisconsin Statute That Puts Rights of Unborn Children Over Pregnant Women Challenged

by | Oct 30, 2013

I have been representing a pregnant woman who has filed a Federal lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s fetal protection law, Wisconsin Statutes, Section 48.133.  She was confined to a drug treatment center for 77 days, even though a drug test on the date of her forced admission was negative for all drugs, and even though the doctor who recommended her detention never actually saw the pregnant woman.  She was also denied legal counsel at the hearing which resulted in her detention.

I am very happy to report that the underlying Wisconsin case has been dismissed against my client.  There are no charges or allegations remaining against her.

This case has generated much national attention, starting with the initial report by the New York Times.  Articles were also published USNews.NBCNews.com, JSOnline.com and FDLReporter.com.

The underlying premise of the Wisconsin law is protection of the unborn child, but the law forces pregnant women into treatment without protection of their constitutional rights.  It is a sorry state of affairs.  My client went to a physician for prenatal care.  The information she provided to the physician’s assistant included her medical pre-existing conditions, including prior abuse of Percocet.  However, my client had weaned herself off drugs, because of her concern for her unborn infant.  Rather than receiving assistance and accolades for her efforts, her medical information was used against her in a CHIPS (Child in Need of Protective Services) petition.  No recognition was given to patient/doctor privilege, which was ignored.

My client was ultimately arrested, handcuffed and forcibly taken to a drug treatment facility.  As a result, a Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed in Federal Court to declare Section 48.133, Wis. Stats., unconstitutional alleging that the statute discriminates against pregnant women and violates their rights to privacy, due process, personal freedom and freedom from illegal search and seizure.

In my opinion, in too many cases this statute, rather than protecting unborn children, does just the opposite.  In order to avoid detention, one viable option for the pregnant woman is abortion, which she may never have considered an option absent her detention.

While the CHIPS petition has been dismissed, the Federal case continues in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.Other articles you may find of interest are RHRealityCheck.org and Slate.com.

Written by Linda Vanden Heuvel

Linda is a skilled litigator but also has the ability to negotiate favorable settlements on behalf of her clients. She saves her clients time, money, and emotional distress through settlement negotiations.
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