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Finland moves to commit pregnant addicts

Doctors may soon be able to force expectant substance abusers into treatment if a bill under review is written into law.

Odottavalla äidillä oluttölkkejä kädessä
Image: Mika Viljanen / Yle

Today pregnant alcohol and drug abusers can only be forced into treatment if they’re considered to be risking their own health. Under current law, risks to the fetus are not ample grounds for committing a woman to professional care against her will.

“The fetus' right to health outweighs the mother’s right to drink,” said Kari Paaso, who chairs the working group tasked with putting together the proposal that targets alcoholic mothers.

But not everyone in Finland is in favour of affording rights to unborn children.

“In our constitution a fetus has no rights. Giving the unborn rights will easily open Pandora’s box, which may lead us to revisit rules on abortion,” explained Helsinki University law professor Tuomas Ojanen.

Norway is the only country in the world with a law mandating treatment for pregnant addicts.

The contentious bill is not expected to come before parliament until early next year.

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