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Legislative Memo: Prohibiting Drug Testing of Pregnant People

Pregnant people in New York State are often subjected to medically unnecessary drug and alcohol testing by their health care providers without their knowledge or consent. Indeed, testing deters some pregnant people from seeking vital pre- and perinatal medical care. These tests result can cause an avalanche of unwarranted and devastating consequences, including a report to Child Protective Services (CPS), family separation, loss of housing and employment, and more. Largely conducted at the discretion of health care providers, and accordingly subject to their unconscious bias, drug and alcohol testing disproportionately targets Black and Latinx pregnant people in public hospitals, despite similar rates of substance use by white patients in private facilities. Women of color already suffer from disproportionately high rates of maternal mortality and family separation by CPS – nonconsensual and medically unnecessary drug and alcohol testing exacerbates these inequities.

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