Dr. Daniel Amen says in most states it is legal for a mother to use drugs during pregnancy. However, once the child is born, and a drug screen shows substances in the baby’s blood, the Department of Human Services (DHS) is contacted. DHS then usually removes the baby from the mother’s care. A new law in the state of Tennessee follows this same procedure; however, they take it one step further.
A new law, called the Pregnancy Criminalization Law, makes it illegal for a woman to use drugs in pregnancy. According to an article in thenation.com, new mothers will be arrested upon delivery if their baby tests positive for drugs used while the mother was pregnant.
The first woman to be arrested under this law was Mallory Loyola, 26. She was arrested after testing positive for amphetamines. Her baby also tested positive. The law considers drug abuse as “assault.” Loyola could serve up to one year in jail, and a fine of $2,500, if she is found guilty.
The Pregnancy Criminalization Law has come under opposition from state and national critics, according to ABC news. They state the law will discourage drug-addicted pregnant women from seeking prenatal care or substance abuse treatment. They state the women will avoid help, due to fear of being arrested.
Whether you agree or not, the Pregnancy Criminalization Law is currently being enforced. It raises awareness of substance abuse problems in America today.