Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tennessee Could Incarcerate Addicted Pregnant Women

A pregnant woman
A pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tennessee legislature is set to move away from a sensitive approach of dealing with drug-addicted pregnant woman by supporting harsher laws.

A bill to criminally prosecute addicted pregnant women has been approved if their child “is born addicted, is harmed, or dies because of the drug.” The bill was approved 64-30, which means prosecutors can charge women with “assaultive offense or homicide” if their child is affected by drugs. 

Tennessee along with 16 other states allow a “civil commitment” for pregnant women who have substance abuse issues, which means they can be forced into a treatment program. However, Tennessee will become the first to incarcerate pregnant women if they’re on drugs. Currently, Tennessee women are protected from prosecution until 24 weeks, when the fetus becomes “viable.”

The bill was amended recently informing people that the charges would be removed if the addicted pregnant women entered an approved treatment program voluntarily. State Representative Terri Weaver stated, “this piece of legislature is an intervention. Do you want help for yourself, and do you want help for the baby who is inside of your womb, or not?”

Many medical associations oppose the bill because they fear it will scare away drug-addicted pregnant women from seeking prenatal care and help for their substance abuse.

When we are in the midst of our addiction, it’s almost impossible to make good choices. However, it’s imperative that we get help when we are responsible for another life. Most mothers do not want to intentionally hurt their children, but when addiction takes over, their children’s safety is at risk. There are wonderful substance abuse treatment centers that can help you fight addiction and give you the tools to change your life. It takes courage to ask for help, especially if you are fighting the stigma of an addicted mother. However, people at drug and alcohol treatment centers have no judgements. They will welcome you with open arms and meet you with understanding and love.
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