Data on effectiveness of HIV treatment during pregnancy atpreventing the child from being born with HIV

Barksdale, Yvette 7barksda at
Thu Jan 5 18:03:45 PST 2006

Hi eugene
One problem with these kinds of laws is that the state's choices, although seemingly sound when viewed in the abstract (protecting the health of unborn fetuses), are often discriminatory  - singling out pregnant women for choices that could harm there fetuses, while leaving other similarly harmful choices untouched (cigarette smoking husbands, for example). 
For example, given these stats shouldn't the state be concentrating its energy on making sure that pregnant women who want to take the therapy have access to it - for example ensuring the funding and availability of such drugs for pregnant women who want to use them. 
However, in this case, the state is instead focussing its energy on ordering the few pregnant women  who, learning of these stats, would nevertheless not want to use the drug, from doing so.  Doesn't this undermine the bona fideness of the state's claim that it is concerned about the interests of the child, as opposed, perhaps  to finding another platform for fighting the abortion battle, or for finding additional ways to criminalize, rather than help prevent,  the negligent choices of confused pregnant women. 
If so, then is the state's real interest compelling here? 
Many people analyze these types of cases as equal protection, gender bias cases, because these laws are often premised on the assumption that pregnant women are supposed to have a higher moral responsibiltiy to their unborn children than either the child's fathers, or the society in general. 


From: conlawprof-bounces at on behalf of Volokh, Eugene
Sent: Thu 1/5/2006 6:58 PM
To: conlawprof at
Subject: Data on effectiveness of HIV treatment during pregnancy atpreventing the child from being born with HIV

        By the way, according to the NIH,, "In the United States,
approximately 25 percent of pregnant HIV-infected women who do not
receive AZT or a combination of antiretroviral therapies pass on the
virus to their babies. If women do receive a combination of
antiretroviral therapies during pregnancy, however, the risk of HIV
transmission to the newborn drops below 2 percent."  A fact sheet from
UCSF's Center for AIDS Prevention Studies is a little less sanguine, but
basically not that far off; it suggests the risk falls from 25% to

        A mother's refusal to take the drugs during pregnancy thus
yields a 15%-23% extra probability that she will infect the child.
(Note that this isn't a 15%-23% *relative* increase in risk of
infection; it's a 15%-23% *absolute* increase in risk of infection, or a
2.5- to 13-fold relative increase.)

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