Drug debate: Will punishing women who take drugs while pregnant help, hurt or both?
Illustration by Laura McNutt/Times Free Press
CHATTANOOGA, TN (Times Free Press) -
No one wants to see babies born dependent on drugs. It’s easy for lawmakers, medical groups and women’s rights advocates to agree on that.
But they don’t always agree on how to curb the numbers of such births. Now the nation’s eyes are on Tennessee, where lawmakers passed a bill that allows pregnant women to be criminally charged if drug use harms their babies.
The bill says a pregnant woman may be prosecuted for an “assaultive offense … if her child is born addicted … or harmed by the narcotic drug.” She can be charged with homicide if her baby dies because of her drug use.
If Gov. Bill Haslam signs the bill or allows it to become law without his signature, it will be the first law of its kind in the country.