“Should Pregnant Women Be Allowed To Use Opioids Under Medical Supervision?”

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The Story

“Should Pregnant Women Be Allowed To Use Opioids Under Medical Supervision?”
by Troy Farah
Undark, November 15, 2017

The Pitch

I have a story that might interest your readers at Undark.

There are more than 100 supervised injection facilities in 66 cities around the world. These controversial sites allow injection drug users to shoot up heroin and other drugs under medical supervision, greatly reducing the risk of overdose death—no one has ever died from an overdose at a SIF—and helps stops the spread of hepatitis C and HIV. Even if the concept seems counter-intuitive, safe injection facilities save lives and do not increase drug use.

That’s great news for most people who inject heroin—but what if you’re pregnant?

First, some facts: if you are dependent on heroin and pregnant, quitting cold turkey could kill your baby. Withdrawal symptoms cause the uterus to contract, resulting in miscarriage or premature birth. The best option for pregnant mothers seems to be methadone, an opioid that helps taper addiction, but even that doesn’t mean you and your baby will remained unscathed.

Last year, an Australian injection facility called for pregnant women to be allowed at their sites, which was described as “ludicrous” by Deputy Premier Troy Grant. But the other option—pregnant women shooting up at home alone or on the street—may be much riskier.

Would you like a story on this?

I can interview Dr. Marianne Jauncey, one of the Sydney medical professionals advocating for safe injection access for pregnant women or someone from InSite, the SIF in Vancouver, Canada. I can also talk to someone who deals in case management with addicted pregnant women. For balance, I can interview a few people utterly opposed to this idea.

About me: I’m an independent journalist and documentary field producer from California. My writing and criticism has appeared in The OutlineVICEMotherboardThe FixLA WeeklyPhoenix New Times and others. I’ve helped produce documentaries for FusionAJ+, NBC, Golf Digest, and BNN. I often write about drug policymusic and border politics. In relation to this story, I recently wrote about needle exchanges for Tonic and harm reduction for The Outline. My website is troyfarah.com

Thank you for your consideration.

Troy Farah

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