Tennessee criminalizes drug use by pregnant women

ugahairydawgs

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jun 10, 2010
2,666
1,279
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 isn’t conclusive scientific evidence that being exposed to illicit drugs in the womb causes long-term harm to children.

The governor’s 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. It’s 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.”
http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/04/29/3432433/tennessee-criminalize-pregnant-women/
 

mactastic

macrumors 68040
Apr 24, 2003
3,647
661
Colly-fornia
Wouldn't the same logic (and charges) be applicable to a company that releases any chemical known to harm fetuses, if it is then ingested by a pregnant woman?

Or would only the women be able to be charged?
 

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
May 23, 2010
1,532
547
Shady Dale, Georgia
I thought it was already a criminal offense to use drugs in Tennessee. This is a tough one because I don't think anyone advocates pregnant women mainlining heroin or doing meth. How much research could they really do on this subject? I can't see them having a lab experiment where they jack up some pregnant women on PCP.
 

steve knight

macrumors 68030
Jan 28, 2009
2,596
6,958
mandatory drug test on all poor and none or non white pregnant woman. Asa usual the whole right to life thing is out of hand as usual.
 

jkcerda

macrumors 6502a
Jun 10, 2013
682
39,041
Criminal Mexi Midget
from link
“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.”


It’s also a policy that disproportionately harms low-income and non-white women.
how about something not that biased ?
http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/17/us/tennessee-pregnancy-drug-use/

from that link
- The charge would be limited to a misdemeanor;
-- An offense would only occur if there is the illegal use of a narcotic drug;
-- Women who seek treatment while they're pregnant and complete the program would not be charged.
 

iBlazed

macrumors 68000
Feb 27, 2014
1,593
1,224
New Jersey, United States
I thought it was already a criminal offense to use drugs in Tennessee. This is a tough one because I don't think anyone advocates pregnant women mainlining heroin or doing meth. How much research could they really do on this subject? I can't see them having a lab experiment where they jack up some pregnant women on PCP.
Let's, for arguments sake, assume that exposure to illicit drugs in the womb DOES cause long term damage to a child. Would this bill be the right course of action to take anyway? I don't think it is. But what is? It's really hard to say. Obviously the drug addicted pregnant woman should immediately be sent to treatment. But what if she refuses treatment and refuses to stop? What is she's reckless? In that case, maybe she should be forced into treatment by a judge, but incarceration is the worst possible thing to do.
 

ugahairydawgs

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jun 10, 2010
2,666
1,279
Wouldn't the same logic (and charges) be applicable to a company that releases any chemical known to harm fetuses, if it is then ingested by a pregnant woman?

Or would only the women be able to be charged?
That was my first thought too. Wouldn't it make more sense to outlaw smoking around pregnant women?
 

steve knight

macrumors 68030
Jan 28, 2009
2,596
6,958
I could see this stopping woman from going to a doctor too. if it is just a misdemeanor what is the point sounds liek ti is so minor it is pretty much useless. but I guess it gives the GOP lots of warm fuzzy feelings like they are actually protecting a fetus while once born they are kicked to the curb.
 

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
May 23, 2010
1,532
547
Shady Dale, Georgia
Let's, for arguments sake, assume that exposure to illicit drugs in the womb DOES cause long term damage to a child. Would this bill be the right course of action to take anyway? I don't think it is. But what is? It's really hard to say. Obviously the drug addicted pregnant woman should immediately be sent to treatment. But what if she refuses treatment and refuses to stop? What is she's reckless? In that case, maybe she should be forced into treatment by a judge, but incarceration is the worst possible thing to do.
I could see this stopping woman from going to a doctor too. if it is just a misdemeanor what is the point sounds liek ti is so minor it is pretty much useless. but I guess it gives the GOP lots of warm fuzzy feelings like they are actually protecting a fetus while once born they are kicked to the curb.
Maybe but it could cause women who have a substance abuse problem and are pregnant to get help. It's a misdemeanor and let's face it, they'd probably get probation any way. Some states made these laws that allow people to abandon their children if they do it in a certain place. The laws worked.
 

mactastic

macrumors 68040
Apr 24, 2003
3,647
661
Colly-fornia
Maybe but it could cause women who have a substance abuse problem and are pregnant to get help. It's a misdemeanor and let's face it, they'd probably get probation any way. Some states made these laws that allow people to abandon their children if they do it in a certain place. The laws worked.
I suspect it will cause pregnant users to avoid doctors more than it will cause them to seek help. By the time you realize you need help, you've probably already committed the crime, and doctors ask questions.

The abandonment thing is different, you're talking about giving them an alternative to committing the crime in the first place. Plus, it doesn't always work.
 

zioxide

macrumors 603
Dec 11, 2006
5,725
3,711
Maybe but it could cause women who have a substance abuse problem and are pregnant to get help. It's a misdemeanor and let's face it, they'd probably get probation any way. Some states made these laws that allow people to abandon their children if they do it in a certain place. The laws worked.
If you actually want women to seek help for their addictions, making it so they could possibly face criminal charges is the absolute worst way to go about it. Sounds quite Orwellian as well.

If we really want to help people with their addictions, we need to completely abolish the threat of any criminal penalties. That's the only way you're actually going to make people comfortable with the idea of seeking treatment for their disease.
 

ugahairydawgs

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jun 10, 2010
2,666
1,279
If we really want to help people with their addictions, we need to completely abolish the threat of any criminal penalties. That's the only way you're actually going to make people comfortable with the idea of seeking treatment for their disease.
How would that look? As it stands now addiction itself is not a crime, just the possession or sale of a substance.
 

zioxide

macrumors 603
Dec 11, 2006
5,725
3,711
How would that look? As it stands now addiction itself is not a crime, just the possession or sale of a substance.
Well, apparently this bill makes it a crime. That's why it seems like a step backwards.

I think part of the problem also lies with the stigma attached to addition to an illegal drug. Many are unwilling to come forward and seek treatment because it's an illegal drug even though obviously you can't be criminally charged or prosecuted unless you are caught with the substance.

I wonder if decriminalizing possession of small amounts would change that or not. I don't claim to know the answer but it's something to think about. Obviously, sales, distribution, and trafficking drugs like heroin should remain criminal though.
 

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
May 23, 2010
1,532
547
Shady Dale, Georgia
The typical flawed conservative approach. These people are making me ill.
Wait a second, Huntn. Is it really that bad? Drug use is already a crime in Tennessee. Many of those drugs are felonies. This new law added a misdemeanor if you are pregnant. If you are charged with a felony for cocaine does it matter that they toss a misdemeanor into the mix because you were pregnant at the time?

The part of the law that I like is that you will not face prosecution if you seek treatment. Was this law necessary? Not really. It is already a criminal offense to do drugs in Tennessee.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
17,088
16,609
The Misty Mountains
Wait a second, Huntn. Is it really that bad? Drug use is already a crime in Tennessee. Many of those drugs are felonies. This new law added a misdemeanor if you are pregnant. If you are charged with a felony for cocaine does it matter that they toss a misdemeanor into the mix because you were pregnant at the time?

The part of the law that I like is that you will not face prosecution if you seek treatment. Was this law necessary? Not really. It is already a criminal offense to do drugs in Tennessee.
Yes it is. Drug addiction is a medical issue, not an incarceration issue. It makes hard lives even worse. You really think, lock'm up is the solution?
 

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
May 23, 2010
1,532
547
Shady Dale, Georgia
Yes it is. Drug addiction is a medical issue, not an incarceration issue. It makes hard lives even worse. You really think, lock'm up is the solution?
What I am saying is that it already is a lock'm up situation. Using drugs is already a crime in Tennessee. Most drugs are actually a felony in Tennessee. This is simply a feel good law that wasn't really needed. The only positive side of it was the fact that a woman would not be prosecuted if she went for help.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
17,088
16,609
The Misty Mountains
What I am saying is that it already is a lock'm up situation. Using drugs is already a crime in Tennessee. Most drugs are actually a felony in Tennessee. This is simply a feel good law that wasn't really needed. The only positive side of it was the fact that a woman would not be prosecuted if she went for help.
I see what you are saying. Unfortunately addicts often are not in a position to help themselves. They should not be ushered into prison as a solution to the problem.
 

jkcerda

macrumors 6502a
Jun 10, 2013
682
39,041
Criminal Mexi Midget
I see what you are saying. Unfortunately addicts often are not in a position to help themselves. They should not be ushered into prison as a solution to the problem.
they are not being ushered into prison IF they seek treatment, I see the law as a way to FORCE them into treatment, I disagree with the law, seems like a feel good slippery slope to me.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
17,088
16,609
The Misty Mountains
they are not being ushered into prison IF they seek treatment, I see the law as a way to FORCE them into treatment, I disagree with the law, seems like a feel good slippery slope to me.
My original premise stands: Unfortunately addicts often are not in a position to help themselves. If they want to call it helping, it should not be into prison. That's the opposite of helping IMO.
 

jkcerda

macrumors 6502a
Jun 10, 2013
682
39,041
Criminal Mexi Midget
My original premise stands: Unfortunately addicts often are not in a position to help themselves. If they want to call it helping, it should not be into prison. That's the opposite of helping IMO.
let me rephrase a bit, I agree with you its not helping them. its a misguided law IMHO, I was not trying to counter what you posted, simply stated they could avoid prosecution by seeking treatment. hope that somewhat clears things up.