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In 2014, Tennessee became the first state in the nation to pass a law allowing women to be charged with a crime if their babies are born with symptoms of drug withdrawal.
The state was responding to a dramatic rise in the number of babies born with "neonatal abstinence syndrome," a group of symptoms that can occur when babies are in withdrawal from exposure to narcotics. Medical professional stress that while babies with NAS may be irritable, the condition is treatable and has not been associated with long-term negative consequences.
Yet the same cannot be said of Tennessee's law.
Health advocates have reported that women are avoiding critical prenatal care and even leaving the state to give birth because they are afraid of facing arrest and losing custody of their children. While it's not clear exactly how many women have been arrested under the new law, in Shelby County alone, at least 22 women have been prosecuted.
"This policy has resulted in separating mothers from their children and incarcerating people struggling with drug use instead of ensuring access to effective options for recovery," Allison Glass, state director of Healthy and Free Tennessee, a nonprofit women's advocacy group, said in a press release. "This law is hurting far more people than it could ever help."
Tennessee's law is due to expire under a sunset provision in 2016, unless lawmakers move to extend it.
While Tennessee is currently the only state to explicitly criminalize drug use during pregnancy, a lawmaker has proposed similar legislation in Missouri. Other states, such as Alabama and South Carolina, used interpretations of existing laws to prosecute pregnant women who use drugs.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 18 states consider substance abuse during pregnancy to be child abuse under civil child-welfare statutes.
originally posted by: DEANORULES24
a reply to: Krazysh0t
i don't agree with you. my ex wife was a addict , but once she knew she was pregnant , she never used! SO, THEY HAVE A CHOICE
originally posted by: uktorah
I don't agree with drink or drugs when pregnant, but for whatever reason, that's the situation the woman is in. Instead of wasting money prosecuting the woman, spend it on treating the child without separating them from their mother, and maybe even help the mother.
The govt and their golf buddies seems fine making money from prescription drugs.
originally posted by: Shamrock6
Would we be crying if this was about some heroin addict handcuffing a woman to a toilet and forcing drugs into her? Still no big deal, they just need some help?