Thursday, July 8, 2021

Amy Schumer Joins NAPW's Brief In Support of Arizona Mother's Use of Medical Marijuana to Treat HG

UPDATE 1/2023: Arizona Supreme Court: Maternal Use of Cannabis for Morning Sickness Doesn’t Constitute Child Neglect

UPDATE 4/2022: Appeals court sides with mother of baby in marijuana case 

National Advocates for Pregnant Women [now renamed Pregnancy Justice] has asked the Arizona Court of Appeals to accept their amicus brief on behalf of 45 leading health organizations, doctors, ethicists, scientific and medical experts, and advocates—including comedienne Amy Schumer—in support of Lindsay R., a mother found guilty of civil child neglect because she used medical marijuana while pregnant and suffering from acute hyperemesis gravidarum.

Hyperemis gravidarum (HG), a debilitating ailment characterized by severe nausea and vomiting, malnutrition, and weight loss during pregnancy, afflicts 1–2% of pregnant women globally and is the most common cause of hospitalization in the US during the first half of pregnancy, second only to preterm labor for pregnancy overall. As well as Schumer—who documented regarding her own HG journey in the HBO Max series, Expecting Amycelebrities who experienced HG during pregnancy include Kelly Clarkson and Princess Kate

According to a press release from NAPW, Lindsay R.’s HG was so severe that she was hospitalized twice. Although she was a qualifying patient under Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act, a lower court found that Lindsay R. committed civil child neglect for her use of medical marijuana during her pregnancy and placed her on Arizona’s Central Registry for the next 25 years. The Central Registry, maintained by Arizona's Department of Child Safety, lists people with substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect. Placement on the registry creates barriers to employment in childcare, child welfare, and health care services, limiting Lindsay’s job opportunities for the rest of her working life. 

The lower court ignored the severity of HG, says NAPW, and relied on junk science about prenatal exposure to marijuana to find that Lindsay’s use of medical marijuana while pregnant constituted child neglect. The State characterizes her use as selfish behavior that wrongfully “prioritiz[ed] her own needs over those of her child.” 

As NAPW’s brief explains and Expecting Amy documents, HG is a devastating condition that can pose significant risks to the pregnant woman and her future child. Peer-reviewed scientific research does not support the conclusion that prenatal exposure to marijuana causes harm or creates risks of harm different or greater than exposure to many substances as well as medications prescribed to pregnant women. As the more than 40 amici organizations and experts explain in the brief, children are not protected by equating medical marijuana use with child neglect and penalizing their parents. 

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