Tennessee will officially be penalizing pregnant women that are caught using illegal drugs with more fierce criminal charges. By Governor Bill Haslam signing a bill this past April, the state became the first in our country to publicize its intent to enforce a law where any pregnant drug abusers caught using their drugs and declined a treatment program, would be forced to go to jail. In addition to this, the pregnant women drug abusers could later also encounter another charge for any harm that the drugs may have caused if the child ends up being born with any mental or physical issues. Because officials want to see the reception this has on the state and all those involved, the law will not be completely set until 2016.
Stopping Pregnant Women From Using Drugs
Many are worried that this will frustrate the pregnant drug abusers and prevent them from receiving help for addiction. This is why the governor discussed the matter with other necessary resources, like treatment specialists and psychiatric providers, in order to consider if more good would potentially come from the bill than bad. The reason the idea became so pertinent to the state was because a large number of children were reported as being born in withdrawal from narcotic substances due to an active drug addict mother as the carrier. The signing of the bill was supposed to be a push for pregnant drug abusers to seek help and better the unborn children’s health, as well as their own. However, The Drug Policy Alliance has voiced an outrage that these pregnant women that used illicit drugs are being magnified far more than other pregnant women that smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. Despite the dispute, it sounds like both parties do want both mother and child to be safe and healthy, which would have to result in the mother entirely abstaining from drugs. Even Alabama has their own similar version of a law that makes it an offense for pregnant women to use any chemical substance, as it could harm and affect the child.
It’s devastating that children can be born into the world already physically addicted to hazardous illegal drugs. Because addiction is a disease that does not discriminate, even pregnant women can be affected and unfortunately, even being pregnant with an unborn child may not be enough to make a pregnant drug abuser stop using. Perhaps enforcing this law in Tennessee that puts these women who continue to use drugs through their pregnancy in more legal turmoil, will be enough of a consequence to make them reconsider seeking treatment. A great benefit that this law provides is that the charged women are given a choice of attending a treatment facility in order to avoid prosecution, and if that is their motivation for seeking help, then, at the very least, hopefully a seed will be planted in their mind that there is a better, healthier life for their child and themselves in recovery.
If you need help with your addiction, please call The Watershed NOW at 1-800-861-1768.
Tennessee Law Update
7/15/2014 – Under the new Tennesse law that makes it a crime to take drugs while pregnant, the first arrest was officially made. Mallory Loyola is a 26-year-old woman from Madisonville who was charged with assault, due to her newborn baby girl being born with methamphetamine in her system on July 6. Officials claimed Loyola herself confirmed that she inhaled the drug just a few days before the baby came.