According to Time.com a woman was charged last year after Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill that allows pregnant women to be criminally charged if drug use harms their babies. The bill says a pregnant woman may be prosecuted for an assaultive offense if her child is born addicted or harmed by the narcotic drug. She can even be charged with homicide if her baby dies because of her drug use. Sadly, this isn’t just happening in Tennessee, it’s also happening in Texas . This law needs to be nipped in the butt before it goes any further.
If a woman uses during her pregnancy she is to be charged and treated as a criminal for harming her baby. Yikes!! Now this isn’t going to end well. Does anyone else see an increase in “garbage can babies” because I do? Pregnant drug addicts will refuse care for the fear of getting charged which will only cause the baby more harm. What about fetal alcohol syndrome. That doesn’t count? This law is doing nothing to help addicted mothers or their babies, but will probably increase abortion rates. Not to mention that any mother that gives birth to a child with a birth defect will be put under scrutiny.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m against using drugs or alcohol while pregnant and it breaks my heart seeing babies permanently injured by their mothers drug use, but there has to be a better way than threatening mothers with jail time. The problem is that this law deals with the issue once the baby is born and the damage is already done. Why create more suffering by charging the mother? It’s already too late. They are just making it worst by treating an addict like a criminal and taking a mother away from her suffering baby. They’re not just punishing the addicted mother, their babies will miss out on the benefits of having a bond with their mother.
The lawmakers said, the mother can avoid prosecution if she enters treatment at any time during her pregnancy, but realistically if a woman is still doing drugs pregnant than the fear of prosecution certainly won’t make her enter treatment. If they weren’t able to quit for their unborn child, a law won’t make a difference. Chances are they have already broken the law numerous times. If anything their baby is more important to them than a law. They need to implement a better strategy for protecting babies and helping addicts.
Treating addicts like criminals will never be the right answer and will only lead to more problems. I like the idea of drug testing pregnant women and sending them to rehab for the remainder of her pregnancy if they test positive at any point during their pregnancy. This will help to protect the baby before the damage is done. Some of the mothers might relapse after giving birth, but at least they were given a chance at recovery. As for the mothers that do stay clean, we have given them a new chance at life and are giving their babies a chance to have a healthy relationship with their mother.
If you really care about these babies don’t talk shit about these women. Don’t be judgmental, condescending, or make them feel like they are less. Offer help, support, compassion, understanding and maybe then they won’t be so ashamed to admit they have a problem and look for help. If they feel like they won’t be judged they might reach out to people for help. Being negative won’t heal our problems but love might.
Even though, I believe mandatory treatment while still pregnant to be a better option than the law already in place it doesn’t completely address the issue. Pregnant addicts might still refuse prenatal care if they want to avoid mandatory treatment. They say they are hoping to get pregnant addicts in treatment by scaring them with prosecution, but only 2 treatment centers out of almost 200 in Tennessee are equipped for prenatal care. Maybe they should focus on providing the treatment these women need before implementing laws that will only serve to put addicts in jail.
What do you think?
Join the current discussion here: Should pregnant addicts be criminally charged if their addiction harms their baby?
This Post Originally Aired on Recovering Addict
Yours truly, Charmed