Over a dozen maternity wards in the city regularly test new mothers for drugs, then hand the results over to child-protection authorities if they test positive for marijuana. According to the New York Daily News, Family Court attorneys claim to see several neglect cases each year stemming from positive marijuana tests, and almost all of them come from low-income and minority women.

The private hospitals in wealthy neighborhoods almost never test new mothers for drugs, while hospitals serving low-income mothers make the tests routine and, in some cases, mandatory. Lynn Paltrow of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women called it "absolutely discriminatory." "This all comes out of the same history of racism, the drug war, misinformation," she added.

Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side, where only 12 percent of the patients are uninsured or on Medicaid, only conducts tests if patients are obviously wasted. The Bronx's St. Barnabas Hospital, where 73 percent of inpatients are uninsured or on Medicaid, requires all new mothers to submit to testing. Should they refuse, the babies are tested.

The Daily News says that city officials claim there are no numbers available on the number of neglect cases that confirm from positive marijuana tests, but attorneys estimate that there are between 100 and 200 annually.

[via NY Daily News]