Boston Hospital Cuts Automatic Reporting Of Drug-Addicted Babies

Mass General Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, announced Tuesday that they would stop screening expecting mothers for drug use, claiming that these life-saving measures promote ‘structural racism.’

The hospital plans to “update policies that automatically trigger mandatory filings with child welfare agencies when a pregnant individual is engaged in treatment for substance use disorder, absent any other concerns for potential abuse or neglect.”

“Black pregnant people are more likely to be drug tested and to be reported to child welfare systems than white pregnant people,” Mass General Brigham stated.

“As a part of our United Against Racism effort to achieve health equity for patients and communities across our system, we… are addressing policies that may unwittingly perpetuate structural racism,”

“Substance use disorder (SUD) is a condition with significant racial and ethnic inequities, especially in the context of pregnancy, when more punitive approaches to substance use disproportionately affect Black individuals,” the announcement said.

Of course if all expectant mothers are screened for drug use and reported automatically by the system, as per the hospital’s old policy, there can be no discrimination or profiling by the hospital. The old rule exclusively targeted drug users, regardless of race.

If, like Mass General Brigham claims, black women are unfairly targeted for substance abuse, then the fault would lie with Child Protective Services (CPS), and not the hospital. The fairest solution, then, would be to automatically report cases, and petition the government to address any inequality in CPS’s response.

Of course this solution would help the most children, and wouldn’t earn the hospital brownie points for letting newborns suffer.

It is common knowledge that substance abuse during pregnancy can have terrible effects on babies’ health and development.

Universal screenings have been implemented by numerous hospitals to help babies receive the best possible care. Screening expectant mothers for drug use allows the hospital to know in advance which infants may suffer drug related issues.

Because many of these problems aren’t apparent until after the baby goes home, hospitals can’t treat them without prior knowledge of substance use during pregnancy.

Those who support getting rid of such screening practices often suggest that calling mothers who use drugs while pregnant unfit is cruel and unfair. It’s hard to imagine that mothers who knowingly double or triple their risk of stillbirth have their childrens’ best interests in mind.

Mass General Brigham Hospital is willing to harm black children for the optics of claiming that they fight ‘structural racism.’ If letting children be abused because of the color of their skin isn’t racism, what is?