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Lunch Seminar Series: Prof. Pilar Ossorio
November 4, 2021 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
STS Lunch Seminar with Professor Pilar Ossorio, Professor of Law and Bioethics
Thursday, November 4, 12:30-1:30 pm, via Zoom
Ethics-law advising for a national longitudinal study involving persons who use substances during pregnancy
UW is part of a 25-site U.S. consortium conducting the NIH-funded HEALthy Brain and Child Development study (HBCD). This project will recruit ~9500 pregnant persons, study their pregnancies, and then follow their newborns’ development for ten years. The study will oversample for persons who use opioids and other substances during pregnancy. Every state has law or administrative policy requiring that some instances of prenatal substance exposure be reported to child welfare authorities as potential child abuse or neglect. We have conducted a 50-state analysis of all relevant law (statutes, regulations, attorney general opinions, cases, and administrative policies) to inform HBCD study design and legal risk minimization strategies. We have also undertaken interviews and focus groups with women with lived experience of substance use during pregnancy. The dominant narrative in the biomedical literature frames states’ laws on prenatal substance use as either “punitive” (repressive) or “public health and treatment oriented” (possibly analogous to a “rehabilitative” category). Our results are more consistent with those of Rebecca Tiger (e.g., Judging Addicts, 2012), who argues that treatment for substance use and state coercion of substance users can complement each other and merge. Medicalized theories of addiction can support policies that expand the state’s oversight and control over substance users. We have also identified many interesting examples in which the “law on the ground” differs substantially from the formal law.
Rebecca Tiger (2011), Drug Courts and the Logic of Coerced Treatment, Sociological Forum, 26(1): 169 – 182.