Pregnancy and substance use - the Norwegian § 10-3 solution. Ethical and clinical reflections related to incarceration of pregnant women to protect the foetus from harmful substances
AIMS - This article highlights ethical and clinical dilemmas of incarceration of pregnant drug addicts mandated by § 10-3 of the Norwegian Municipal Health and Care Services act. MATERIAL - The material consists of two cases, Siri and Anna, and the ethical dilemmas posed by the use of § 10-3 in these cases. METHODS - Semi-structured in-depth individual interviews were conducted, audio-recorded and transcribed word for word. Transcripts were coded according to converging interests and possible ethical dilemmas and described in a case format. The practical and experiential consequences of the law are discussed in relation to the four main bioethical principles: respect for autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and social justice. These are supplemented by the principles of relational ethics. RESULTS - The application of § 10-3 may lead to situations which distort the psychological preparation for parenthood and strains the helping relationship. The four principles approach seems to be an insufficient tool in grasping the complexity of the situation. CONCLUSIONS - Interventions to protect the foetus from the pregnant woman's use of substances demand elevated professional awareness of ethical and relational challenges and dilemmas. Relational ethics provides a framework to enhance reflexivity and a trusting therapeutic alliance. The potential for psychological change during pregnancy should be invested in. Hence, we suggest that during incarceration according to § 10-3, foetal protection and the promotion of parental competences should be given equal priority.