Policing Pregnancy “Crimes”
Valena E. Beety, Jennifer D. Oliva
The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization held that there is no right to abortion healthcare under the United States Constitution. This Essay details how states prosecuted pregnant people for pregnancy behaviors and speculative fetal harms prior to the Dobbs decision. In this connection, it also identifies two, related post-Dobbs concerns: (1) that states will ramp up their policing of pregnancy behaviors and (2) that prosecutors will attempt to substantiate these charges by relying on invalid scientific evidence. This Essay examines the faulty forensic science that states have used to support fetal harm allegations and reminds defense attorneys of their obligation to challenge junk science in the courtroom.