Katharine McCabe, Ph.D., received the Donald W. Light award for her 2021 article in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, “Criminalization of Care: Drug Testing Pregnant Patients”. Dr. McCabe is a postdoctoral research associate in Health, Humanities, and Society within the Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values.
Abstract: This research draws upon qualitative interviews with healthcare providers to show how legal interests transform the provision of care. Using the case of drug testing pregnant patients, the findings reveal 3 mechanisms by which criminal-legal interests are assimilated into care. The first, is through a process in which providers frame criminal suspicion in medical terms. This process of "clinicalization" obscures the legal intent of drug testing from patients. In the second process, providers tend to rely on legal risk assessments rather than clinical ones in the face of uncertainty. Finally, provider discretion to test is shaped by criminal suspicion that is explicitly raced and classed. This study demonstrates that when the lines between medicine and law blur clinical norms are subverted and marginalized patients become subject to the double burden of being policed by both medical and legal domains.
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