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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: 3, Insightful) by Thexalon on Tuesday May 06 2014, @03:36PM

    by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @03:36PM (#40190)

    but man you want to hear the NAACP/ACLU/ultra liberal types have a screaming shitfit just you dare mention it....offer $5000 in cash to any women of child bearing age who will get her tubes tied, and $2500 to any man.

    I'm an NAACP/ACLU/ultra-liberal type. (Also, for the record, the ACLU has not-infrequently stood on the side of conservatives exercising their civil liberties too, and describing it as a liberal organization is at least partially incorrect.)

    I don't find your idea wholly a bad one, but don't think it will work quite as well as you might hope. My guess is that most people who end up on drugs and pregnant aren't thinking ahead enough to even know that the program you described exists, much less take advantage of it. I also see potential for waste, fraud, and abuse:
    - doctors claiming to have performed sterilizations they hadn't
    - snatching people up off of the street, sterilizing them, and taking their $5K. Or pimps doing the same thing to their prostitutes.
    - bad folks working with unscrupulous doctors pretend to be 3 different people, doctor performs 1 sterilization, claims to have done 3, and the person gets $15K instead of $5K.

    Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
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