Some Americans believe they have the right to tell you what to do with your own body.

Since 1937, this type of American has supported or even waged the war on marijuana, a war with actual deaths and injuries, with millions arrested and jailed.

These folks believe they can control women’s bodies. They cheered when the Supreme Court took away a settled right—the right to control your own womb—by overturning Roe v. Wade.

Since then, pregnant women have been treated like dirt in the states where anti-abortion laws are the most restrictive. These same states are the ones with the most draconian marijuana laws.

Consider the case of pregnant Alabama 23-year-old Ashley Banks. Ashley recently got caught with an unregistered gun and a tiny amount of marijuana.

In a state where child molesters, rapists, and even murderers are often allowed to post bail and leave jail awaiting trial, police forced Banks to stay in jail to “protect the fetus.”

According to police, Banks admitted she smoked marijuana the day she found out she was pregnant, prompting them to jail her so the fetus wouldn’t be “polluted with more marijuana.”

They told her she could not leave jail unless she entered drug addiction rehab. Problem is, she’s not addicted to marijuana, so drug rehab evaluators concluded she isn’t eligible for drug rehab.

The police insisted Banks admit to being a drug addict, pay a huge amount of money, admit that she hurt her fetus by getting high once, and complete a drug rehab program…before she would be allowed to leave jail.

Banks remained in jail for months, which was worse for her fetus than if she was out of jail consuming marijuana.

In fact, Banks developed serious bleeding and other dangerous health problems due to being pregnant while jailed.

The jail she was in is overcrowded, dangerous, violent, noisy, poorly funded, badly managed. Banks developed serious medical conditions that heighten risk of miscarriage, but had to sleep on the floor, was deprived of food and water, and several times became unconscious due to hunger and pain.

Banks isn’t the only pregnant woman consigned to gestation slavery in this Alabama jail. These fascist states jail struggling pregnant women, many of whom would like an abortion but are unable to get one because abortions are illegal in Alabama and other conservative MAGA states, even in the case of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.  

Banks was held against her will in the Etowah County Detention Center, which is known for  imprisoning pregnant and postpartum women against the advice of maternal and fetal health experts.

Dr. Carolyn Sufrin, an OB/GYN expert on incarceration and pregnancy, wrote an affidavit supporting Banks’ release:

“The stress and conditions in jail and prisons, including lack of consistent access to standard prenatal care and mental health care, poor diets, poor sanitation, infestations with bugs and vermin, poor ventilation, tension, noise, lack of privacy, lack of family and community contact, are detrimental to physical and mental health and result in poor pregnancy outcomes for the mother and the baby,” Sufrin wrote.

After a lengthy court battle, and likely due to media coverage and public outrage, Banks was released from jail in late August.

This doesn’t mean she will have a happy pregnancy or life. Alabama has many laws criminalizing women, pregnancy, and abortion.

Alabama law states that women accused of using drugs during pregnancy can be sent to jail for as long as 99 years. Alabama leads the nation in arresting women who use drugs during pregnancy, and was the first state to  add a “fetal personhood clause” to its constitution in 2018, recognizing “the rights of unborn children, including the right to life.”

In applying these laws, Alabama and other anti-marijuana, anti-abortion states give the fetus more rights than the mother.

In Ohio and Texas, for example, extreme anti-abortion laws have resulted in pregnant women severely injured due to lack of medical care, improper handling of miscarriages, and other issues arising from taking away a woman’s right to control her own womb.

There are two huge ironies in all this. First of all, the states with the worst anti-abortion laws are also the ones with the worst anti-marijuana laws.

Secondly, cannabis use during pregnancy has been studied, and it is often beneficial.

There may come a time when fascists who want to control your body will die off. Until then, we’ll continue seeing women forced into gestation slavery and prison for consuming marijuana while pregnant.