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posted by n1 on Tuesday May 06 2014, @04:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the Take-Me-to-Another-Land dept.

USA Today reports that Tennessee has become the first state with legislation that will criminally charge women who use drugs while pregnant with assault for harm done to their infants. Tennessee officials have wrestled with what to do about the growing numbers of infants born dependent on drugs (921 in Tennessee in 2013) and who often suffer from a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome. The legislation would allow mothers to avoid criminal charges if they get into one of the state's few treatment programs. Governor Bill Haslam says he wants doctors to encourage women to get into treatment before delivering their babies so they can avoid charges. "The intent of this bill is to give law enforcement and district attorneys a tool to address illicit drug use among pregnant women through treatment programs," says Haslam.

Seventeen states already consider drug use during pregnancy as child abuse and in three of them Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin it is grounds for civil commitment (e.g. forced enrollment in treatment programs). In 15 states, health-care providers are required to report suspected abuse and, in four of those states, they are then also required to test for drug exposure of the child. Eighteen states have treatment programs targeted at pregnant women. Opponents of the bill, including five national medical organizations and local doctors who treat pregnant women, worry that criminalization will scare women away from treatment. "This law separates mothers from their children and is not patient-centered," says Cherisse A. Scott. "Tennessee families who are already being hit the hardest by policies such as the failure to expand Medicaid, poverty and a lack of available drug treatment facilities will be most deeply impacted by this bill."

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  • (Score: 2) by bradley13 on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:10AM

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:10AM (#40043) Homepage Journal

    I like national-level political topics, even if this is mostly a techie site, but I suggest avoiding topics about local politics.

    I don't think US-based Soylentils are terribly interested in the politics of Solothurn, or Bayern. Similary, those outside the US are unlikely to be interested in the doings of Tennessee or North Dakota. anyway, not until some town council declares Pi to be 3 again...

    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06 2014, @07:05AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06 2014, @07:05AM (#40051)

    Sure but this isn't as much about local as it is about politics, i.e. this could in theory happen anywhere. And the question whether this is a good or a bad idea, how to define the boundaries and what kind of consequences it will have are universally interesting questions I think.

    I personally always look away in deep disgust when I see a smoking pregnant woman. To me it's the ultimate selfish stupidity. When a pregnant woman is using drugs however is a sign of Serious Trouble in addition to that so it probably requires another, a more complex approach.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by blackest_k on Tuesday May 06 2014, @09:14AM

    by blackest_k (2045) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @09:14AM (#40069)

    I'd have to disagree, a lot of policies get tested on smaller area's first. It's not my state, it isn't even my country but it is of interest still even if its just another reason to be glad not to live there.

    The consequences of this law are far reaching and badly applied. Why does the USA have such a problem with crack? It doesn't make sense to be jailing people just to make more room in the gutter and of course feeding the private prisons even more state funds.

    The suggestion of paying people to get their tubes tied is not a good one since that means an end to any hope of a normal life raising a family.

    There are several forms of contraception available such as iud's the pill even injections and slow release drugs which can prevent pregnancy.

    It's more complex than just helping crack addicts gain normal lives, after all you don't want becoming a crack addict the gateway for non addicts to get some support to get out the gutter. At the same time it is pretty messed up when a country gives up on some of its people to a life of prison and desperation.