Skip to main content

States with more punitive laws on alcohol use during pregnancy have more laws limiting reproductive rights

A study from ANSIRH’s Sarah Roberts and colleagues, “40 years of state alcohol and pregnancy policies in the U.S.: Best practices for public health or efforts to restrict women’s reproductive rights?” found that states with restrictive reproductive rights laws also tend to have more policies that punish women who drink alcohol while pregnant. There is also no evidence that these punitive policies reduce harm from alcohol use during pregnancy, suggesting more of a focus on restricting women’s reproductive autonomy than effectively addressing harms from alcohol.

The study examined alcohol and pregnancy policies from 1970 to 2013 as well as reproductive rights laws in states across the country. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of state-level policies targeting women’s alcohol use during pregnancy, and these policies have become increasingly punitive over time. The number of states with alcohol and pregnancy policies increased from one in 1974 to 43 in 2013.

The full article can be found in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.

Request a PDF.