Mothers Whose Babies Are Born Addicted To Drugs Can Be Charged Under New Law

(Memphis) Doctors at CHOICES for Reproductive Health call a new law unconstitutional, but Memphis area lawmakers are the ones who pushed for it in the first place.

The law will let prosecutors charge women who give birth to drug-addicted babies with a crime for hurting their kids.

District Attorney Amy Weirich said, “These would have to be illegal drugs – cocaine, marijuana, heroine – a day or two days before giving birth.”

Last year, more than 850 babies in Tennessee were born addicted to drugs, because of their mother’s habit.

But advocates for women say this law moves in the wrong direction.

Allison Glass of Healty and Free Tennessee said, “It’s going to hurt babies, it’s going to hurt mothers, it’s going to tear families apart.”

Glass agrees the state needs to do something about the number of drug addicted babies, but she says this isn’t it.

She’s afraid it will keep women from getting necessary prenatal care, and possibly lie to their doctors to avoid charges.

Glass added, “There is a real fear that it is going to lead women to have unwanted abortions because they’re trying to avoid jail.”

District Attorney Amy Weirich disagrees.

She says this law has been on the books before, and it works to keep women in treatment by giving them limited options.

“If they give birth and the baby test positive they’re given a citation to show up in drug court and they’re given the opportunity to work the drug treatment program.”

And if they don’t they go to jail.

Doctors hope this law will start getting national attention and possibly be brought to the attention of the Supreme Court.

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