Helen Klebesadel

Tamara Loertscher Fighting Back
watercolor on canvas – 40 x 30 inches

I painted this piece to celebrate Tamara Loertscher, of Medford, Wisconsin for her courage in the face of unjust laws and abuse of power. She was 31 years old and pregnant when she was jailed for 18 days in 2014.  Tammy had started self-medicating with marijuana and amphetamines when she ran out of her thyroid medication and lacked the funds to buy more.  Suspecting she was pregnant she immediately quit and sought medical help, telling the provider about her earlier drug use. The medical provider reported her drug use to county officials who ordered her into a drug treatment program. Tammy refused treatment because she was not an addict.  She was found in contempt of court and jailed.

The 1997 Wisconsin law prosecutes women whose drug use behavior places the fetus at risk, and makes the standard child protective apparatus applicable to a fetus. All charges are carried through the juvenile court system where cases are confidential and sealed, so we do not know how often it has been applied to other women. I responded to Tammy Loertscher story because after her release in December 2014 she decided to fight back.  She filed a lawsuit in federal district court arguing that the law is unconstitutional. The case is scheduled for trial in the spring of 2017.  The National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) is Tammy’s partner in the suit.  You can support Tammy Loertscher by supporting the NAPW. http://advocatesforpregnantwomen.org – http://klebesadel.com