Dear Editor: The “Healthy Women, Healthy Babies” initiative that Gov. Tony Evers recently introduced has a glaring error — it fails to call for the elimination of the Unborn Child Protection Act, also known as “Act 292” or the “cocaine mom law.”
The proposed $28 million “Healthy Women, Healthy Babies” initiative shows a willingness to address the health inequities that pregnant people, especially people of color, face in Wisconsin. However, the initiative does an injustice to the thousands of people criminalized through enforcement of Act 292. We know that Act 292 is disproportionally enforced on marginalized people, especially drug-using people, low-income people and people of color. Without addressing the inequities that Act 292 imposes on families, we risk implementing non-comprehensive policy.
Wisconsinites need to know that Gov. Evers has a plan to help all Wisconsinites, and that means he must specifically pledge to stop enforcing Act 292. The lack of attention drawn to the regressive Unborn Child Protection Act in this initiative already makes for a less equitable state. The proposed plan to address health disparities is insufficient if the harm done by the enforcement of Act 292 is not addressed or even recognized.
The “Healthy Women, Healthy Babies” plan must be mindful of all people that have been referred for investigation by the state under Act 292. The Evers administration must ensure that all pregnant and parenting people are at the forefront of progressive change, that policies are equitable across the board and that decriminalization efforts include pregnant people.
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