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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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:21PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:21PM (#40259)

    a lot of the stuff you're saying seems like its coming straight from fox news. granted, there certainly are people who are nothing but a drain on the system, and actually do have more children just to get more cash assistance from the government - i actually know one of them, and its sickening - but the people like that who actually are nothing but a drain are not a majority, they are just a tiny fraction so small it would be considered a rounding error when taken against the whole population, probably even still when considered against those in poverty (which is half the country according to mitt romney).

    the majority of the poor really are in your first category - civilized contributors stick in a bad situation, often due to there being no jobs. your latter category is more like the mythical "voter fraud" problem, while it does indeed exist and occur from time to time, it doesnt happen enough to be an actual problem, and is more of a scare tactic than anything else.

    posting AC because i havent gone through the whole thread for mod purposes yet.