- Jun 10, 2010
http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/04/29/3432433/tennessee-criminalize-pregnant-women/Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has approved a measure that will allow Tennessee to bring criminal charges against pregnant women who use drugs for potentially harming their fetuses, even though there isnt conclusive scientific evidence that being exposed to illicit drugs in the womb causes long-term harm to children.
The governors approval of the legislation comes despite a massive outcry from reproductive rights and criminal justice groups across the country, who say that criminalizing pregnant women is the wrong policy approach. Threatening to bring charges against women who are struggling with substance abuse dissuades them from coming forward to seek the medical treatment they need. Its also a policy that disproportionately harms low-income and non-white women.
Today, the Tennessee governor has made it a crime to carry a pregnancy to term if you struggle with addiction or substance abuse, Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said. This deeply misguided law will force those women who need health care the most into the shadows. Pregnant women with addictions need better access to health care, not jail time.
In a statement accompanying his signature on the bill, Haslam claimed that he had extensive conversations with experts including substance abuse, mental health, health and law enforcement officials and will be monitoring the impact of the law through regular updates with the court system and health professionals.